Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Travelings and Ravelings.....

October's the month that I like most of all,
It's the one that just speaks to me.....it whispers "fall...."
Though autumn announces that Nature is slowing,
I still seem to meet myself coming and sewing.

  I just returned from a most enjoyable quilt show in Des Moines, Iowa.  I just love that event!  It's not the most financially successful show we do, but it's one of the most fun.  Everyone always seems to be in a friendly mood and ready to just have a good time.  We're all more relaxed ~ or simply worn out!  Whatever....we make the most of our time there.
  This year my good friend Gail met us in Des Moines and gave us a hand in our booth. Gail is a Hawkeye, having graduated from the University of Iowa, but now she lives in Columbus and masquerades as a Buckeye (since she works at OSU!).  Gail photographed the entire show, and told us about all the cool places she insisted we visit.  It was fun to see the show through the eyes of a non-vendor, and a photographer.
   We arrived in Des Moines Monday evening after a 10+ hour drive. We were weary ~ it was a long drive in windy rain and heavy traffic. Ugh.  The good news is we arrived just in time for Happy Hour!  We checked into our hotel, met up with my AQS editor and some other AQS friends, and had drinks and dinner and lots and lots of laughs.  We decided right then-and-there ~~ what happens in Des Moines stays in Des Moines (unless it gets posted on facebook!).
  We spent the entire day on Tuesday setting up our booth.  That's a huge task, which if you read my last post you can imagine, but in Des Moines we never feel rushed. We're not open Tuesday night, sew we have time to experiment a bit with rearranging the 'furniture' and hanging our displays.
  Finally satisfied with our booth set up, we met with some other vendor friends and headed to our favorite destination ~ Court Ave. Brewing Company (www.courtavebrew.com).  Friends think we're simply creatures of habit, but when we finish with a long day of talking, laughing, demoing, selling (and shopping!), we want a guaranteed good dinner....and it doesn't hurt if "everybody knows your name".
  Every morning we hopped out of bed, juggled 4 women in one small bathroom, grabbed coffee and a quick complimentary breakfast, and headed to the show.
  The show not only had the spectacular AQS quilt entries on display

   ....but the huge Des Moines guild show took place in the same venue!

Quilters from the guild were an invaluable help to AQS in successfully presenting their event.  Quilters-helping-quilters!
  I am not one to enter quilts in shows, but since I'm an AQS author, 2 of the quilts from my last book, Everyday Quilts hung in the show, too.  This one is titled Sawtooth Irish Chain.
            And this one is Ajo Star.

 I spent all of my show-days demoing the fabulous, Made-In-The-USA Creative Grids!  When I sold out of one style, I changed-out the display quilts and went on to something else.  I think it made our neighbors crazy!  It sure confused the customers! (But kept them coming back to see what we were up to NOW!)

On the second day of the show I gave a stage presentation called Ruler Magic.  I demonstrated a variety of the weird (in a good way!) Creative Grids rulers and shared a trunk show of quilts that were made with them. 

The third day of our four-day show, one of our crew suffered a bit of a digestive-disturbance.  Hmmmmm. Not sure how to say this in a genteel manner, but she had a Fiber One bar that did nothing to make us want to get up-close-and-personal. The nose knows, ya know what I mean?  What that meant was nearly-uncontrollable bouts of giggling in our booth and very careful positioning on her part.
  Because the weather was wonderful, we walked the 10 blocks or sew to our brew-pub. But late at night as we walked home it was chilly, sew we meandered through the skywalks back to our hotel.  This particular night as we walked ~ luckily never running into any other pedestrians,  [the entire population of downtown Des Moines could have been beemed up to Scotty it was sew quiet after-hours!] there was a sound like a Tommy Gun coming from the nether-regions of our disturbed crew member.  We simply dissolved into laughter. We could barely walk. That, of course, made things worse.  By the time we reached our hotel room we were in tears from laughing sew hard!
    Another example of Quilters-helping-quilters ~~ an emergency gas mask!
  As we drove east wending our way homeward on Sunday we made a serendipitous stop at a roadside rest.  Gail had told us about this rest area, but I had forgotten about it, and didn't remember exactly where she said it was.
  This is what I saw as I pulled into the parking area.  Then we walked inside!!  Oh my!  The entire rest stop was dedicated to signal quilts of the Underground Railroad!  Cedar County, Iowa, very near the Illinois border, was extremely influential in organizing the aid given to runaway slaves.  Many Quakers and pacifist religions were located there and they actively lived their beliefs.
  This rest area was an amazing wealth of information on this subject.  In two weeks I'll be traveling to Michigan to give my lecture on Signal Quilts of the Underground Railroad, sew I'll post more pictures and information on my blog at that time.
  In the meantime, I hope you're having a wonderful autumn and laughing uproariously with your friends!  Girlfriends are just The Best!  May you, too, be lucky enough to snuggle under Everyday Quilts!  Your friend in raveling stitches, Rita

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On The Road.......AGAIN!

It's time to load the van again and point her nose 'northwest'~
The AQS Show in Des Moines ~ we'll be there with the rest
Of vendors and amazing quilts displayed to dazzle you.
But first I thought you might enjoy a glimpse of all we do.
[A look behind the scenes at what it takes to make a 'show']
We lift and lug and hang and drape. It's harder than you know!

  This weekend we'll have a booth at a small local quilt show and spend our time visiting with lots of quilters we know from our own geographic area.  Fun, but relatively relaxing.  As I'm planning that booth set-up, I'm alsew running through my mind the set-up and necessary product yet-to-be-ordered for the AQS Quilt Show in Des Moines, Iowa next week. 3 of us are climbing in the Stitch Mobile on Monday and heading northwest.  Lots of fun!  Lots of friends! Lots of work!!
  These events are a big part of my business.  I just do them. I don't give a whole lot of thought to what it all entails.  I've been doing these shows and events for 20 years now, sew although no one event is the same as another, the process for planning, hauling, merchandising and decorating our own little bit of quilty real estate are somewhat routine.
  A couple years ago, at exactly this time of the year, I was again preparing to head to this same show in Des Moines. One of my employee-friends commented, as we lugged and tugged and stuffed yet more stuff into the weary Stitch Mobile, "You know, I'll bet people who attend these shows would be amazed at what it takes to go from an empty convention hall to the stunning and inspiring displays that they walk into when they attend the quilt shows.  Maybe we should take some pictures and document this journey."  I looked at her and wiped my brow. "I think we should share our 'fun' with them, don't you?" I replied, laughing.  Sew join me today as I take you on one of our 'routine' quilty adventures!
  We loaded up at our shop in Chillicothe, Ohio where it was sunny and 70ish. After several hours of lugging and schlepping, we had her stuffed-to-the-gills and ready for take-off!

 Notice I left an 'eye hole' sew I could see out the back using my mirror!.
We're ready for take-off!!
  After a little over 10 hours of driving, laughing, yakking and listening to audio books, we arrived in Des Moines, Iowa and began the weary task of unloading!

 We've staked our claim on our own little bit of quilty real estate and began the ginormous task of making it look inviting and enticing!
For the first time ever we have to unload our precious cargo in the rain!  I have last minute utilities to purchase, and of course the neverending phone interruptions!  Great.  Lovely.
  Now it's up the ladder and on to business!  Lots to do!

  It's been 7 hours and there's still sew darn much to do!!  I'm pooped.
  The good news is our neighbors aren't doing things any faster than we are!  Whew!

  Finally just about ready for the Grand Opening early tomorrow morning!  What would we do without the 'basement' for storage under our draped tables?!
  Now it's off to the hotel with my girls ~ a hot shower, dinner and several glasses of wine!  As one of my past employees once said (she having been raised Quaker!) ~ "Now I know why you and Jan drink when you go to shows!"  Cheers!  Stop by and say 'hi' if you make it to the AQS Des Moines Quilt Show!  We'll be spending our days in Booth # 710  September 28 - October 1!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Summer musings...

Summer simply slipped away
  Sometime around Labor Day
Now my thought's consumed with fall....
  Which is my favorite, after all.

  Isn't is amazing the way we went from a 105* heat index one afternoon to a high of 58* the next afternoon?  I though that was a fluke at the time, but those cooler temps have hung around and it's been misty and drizzly here in Southern Ohio.  I, for one, am NOT complaining. Fall is simply my very, very favorite time of year. If I could have found a location where it was autumn all year round, we'd have moved there from Phoenix 25 years ago, instead of to our tiny piece of rural Ohio paradise!
  At the shop we're gearing up for our super-fun Quilt Away.  September 16, 17 and 18 quilters take over the lovely Christopher Inn about 1 mile from our shop...
 and we laugh and sew and eat and laugh and just have an awesome-good time!  We invite a masseuse and a nail tech. All our meals are catered. And there's 24-hour shopping at our favorite shop ~ Creations Sew Clever!
  Meanwhile, back at the Christopher Inn we've got the busy quilters, intent on finishing projects...

Or simply choosing to relax and visit and have a great time!
Whatever the reason for joining the fun, quilters can always be assured.....
What HAPPENS at the Christoper Inn STAYS at the Christopher Inn!


If you'd like to be part of the fun, the next two events are scheduled for September 16, 17 and 18 and October 14, 15 and 16.  Email me or call 740.775.1957 for details or to register!!  Happy Autumn!  Make Everyday ~ Quilts!  Rita

Sunday, July 31, 2011

There's Just the GHOST of a Chance...

We have a ghost-or-two under our roof,
    But we really have not dealt with 'burden-of-proof'
We're used to the weirdness that comes with our shop,
    And we've never said to the ghost ~ "Hey! Now just stop!"
    Sew, I love to write this blog, but even though I 'think' I have a topic, I really never know where this will take me. [Which actually means I have many of topics!]  At our shop we just wrapped up our fun Central Ohio Quilt Spree. This means we had LOTS of folks stopping in who've never been here before.
    Ten years ago we bought an old funeral home and converted it into our third ~ and final(!) resting place.    Over the years we've made improvements and done repairs, but the old place really is basically the same as ever.
    Our shop is laid out in a very logical way ~ the entire downstairs is the retail space, classroom and kitchen and the second floor, where the previous family had lived above the funeral home, is now home to our 3 longarm machines ~ Sewfee, Sewnya and Sewnie, as well as our large office.  The third floor, once two large bedrooms and storage closets now holds our shipping boxes and years of old files.
    Once we moved into our new 'digs' we had lots of funny funeral-based comments. [It was suggested that we might consider changing our name to Cremations SewClever :-)]  One morning a couple even showed up at the front door for a viewing.  Sew it wasn't surprising that more than a couple customers mentioned 'seeing' or 'feeling' the presence of a ghost in two rooms of the shop.  I'm very open-minded and accepted their reports with mild curiosity and amusement.  A couple gals, unfamiliar with each other, and at different times, took me aside and said our 'presence' was a man from the 1940's who appeared in an overcoat and fedora.
    Often I'm at my desk in my office at the shop early in the morning sew I can get a jump on the day before employees arrive, customers come to visit and the phone begins to ring.  This is a habit I started back in 1991 when Creations SewClever began.  I'm a morning person and prefer to start my day with a bit of peace and quiet getting plans made and organizing my schedule.  This routine continued in our new place. I'm often at my desk by 7:30 or 8am writing diligently, paying bills and planning the day.  One morning, shortly after moving into our new place, I was busy at work in the early morning and heard quite a bit of noise in one of our quilting rooms ~ the room that had been the family kitchen. I was distracted, but not alarmed in the least as I assumed it was one of the shop gals arriving early to get a head start on a customer's quilt. I called out, "Good morning!", but no one replied.  The noise continued, sounding as if someone was moving scissors and pins and generally organizing the work space. I called out again. Still nothing. The noise continued sew I got up and crossed the hall to find......nothing.  Noise stopped as I approaced the room, sew shaking my head, I chalked it up to a visit from 'Sewjourner' (yep, we named him) and went back to work. One evening after hours I had a plumbing contractor sitting across from my desk quietly as I wrote a check for his services. There was sew much noise coming from the old kitchen that I couldn't believe my plumber-friend didn't notice. I didn't call attention to it but figured he probably thought I just had an employee working late.
  Over the years we've had lots of unexplainable events that we chalked-up to more Sewjourner activity. Doors open/close. Books fall from shelves where they've been for weeks. Scissors fly off the longarm machine bed.  Generally we just ignore these nuisances.
   For years Jan has insisted that our visitor is a woman.  Charlotte agreed. One morning after a fretful  night, Charlotte was in the shop classroom at a sewing machine, putting the binding on a customer quilt. She was bent over the machine intently sewing, thinking about things that had kept her awake, when she felt someone rub her upper back between her shoulder blades, as if to comfort her. Thinking one of us had picked up on her stress she turned to see who was behind her. No one.
  Recently as Jan and Charlotte were preparing to open the shop one morning they were standing at the base of the stairs near the front of the shop. Charlotte was facing the back of the store, Jan the front door. As Jan was explaining some of the day's anticipated activities, Charlotte excused herself, saying she had to go greet the woman who just walked into the classroom from the back entrance. As the shop was not yet 'open' she was puzzled, but when we're there we don't lock the doors, sew customers and UPS delivery men occasionally wander in before official 10am opening time.  Charlotte walked into the classroom to greet the customer, Jan right on her heels. No one was there. Jan said, "Where did she go?". Charlotte looked all around, remarking that the woman had been wearing a red dress and seemed to know where she was going.  There was no one in the shop other than Jan and Charlotte.
    As I've said, these kinds of things are fairly commonplace here at Creations.  We generally don't give them much thought. We do notice, however, that activities such as those above tend to happen in sort of a 'cluster' pattern. We'll be aware of lots of unexplained noise and disturbances over the period of a week or sew, and then things quiet down, sometimes for quite a long stretch.
    During our recent Shop Spree, one of our customers became somewhat agitated. Finally she said, "I'm sorry. I really must step outside now. There is sew much paranormal energy in here that it is disturbing me. You know you have ghosts?"
  Jan replied,  "Yes, indeed we do know we have a ghost."
   To our surprise the customer said, "Not A ghost. You have 3. You have a man, a woman and a young 'imp' of a child. A girl of about 6 who is curious and mischievious.  She has been bothering me since I walked in here."
     As I was telling my daughter, Shannon, about this over the phone one evening she very matter-of-factly agreed. "I've felt a little girl in that upstairs kitchen since you've been in that shop."
    Well....do we have ghosts?  Or do we have employees, customers and friends with very vivid imaginations?  You can decide for yourself.

    This is a picture of our shop taken in August 1900.  Five generations of the original family are sitting on the front steps. If you visit our website, www.creationssewclever.com and scroll to the bottom of the home page, you'll see this picture along with reference to where to go on our site to read about what happened when descendants of the builder came to see the old homeplace.  It's worth the time to check that out! While on our site, take a 'virtual tour' of our store!  Better yet, stop in and decide for yourself whether or not we have ghostly visitors!
  Wishing you a lovely late-summer week!  Your friend in stitches, Rita

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An Object in Motion Tends to Stay in Motion

Life for a shop-owner never slows down!
The fact that I love my job prevents the frown
That would surely be on my face day-after-day
If I couldn't report that my job seems like "play"!

  I get up every morning, then go to bed every night with the 'to-do' list written somewhere on a pad of paper as an extension of my overloaded brain (crammed with lint, I'm sure!).  I prefer to use a yellow legal pad (full size, not mini, and yellow, not white or green, although sometimes that's all I have available) and I have dozens of them tucked in weird  places ~ mostly in my 'brief-box', a US Mail transport box (which I actually DO use to transport mail to the post office, to home, to the office ~ in case a by-the-book government worker is reading this!).
 I am not nearly organized enough to neatly file my paperwork, my mail, my half-done projects, and my dozens of yellow legal pads in the awesome, professional, classy red leather rolling computer case my staff gifted me last Christmas (sorry Linda ~ I've tried, honestly!)

  Sew, all that said, I just want to say I just returned home from the fun AQS Knoxville quilt show and I seem to have 7 lists going now. sigh.  We're working like crazy-women getting the shop ready for the fun Central Ohio Shop Spree (visit www.myshopspree.com) and since I've been gone sew much over the past several weeks, I have a TON of prep work to accomplish tomorrow! We're excited about our shop hop event and look forward to showing off our shop, sew there must be cleaning (company's coming!). Speaking of company, it's coming to my house, too!  Arizona friends are visiting this week. Plus I have a deadline this week to write 5 patterns and one of the quilts is not yet finished, sew there is some sewing to do. Meanwhile, the garden needs to be weeded and the dogs need a bath....you know, real life.
   I'm excited about the patterns I'm working on!  One is simply the enlargement of an awesome pattern, Floating Stars, designed/written by my friend, Carolyn Griffin:
  This Sunday I'll be teaching this class FREE to anyone who purchases a kit. We've lots of color combinations from which to choose. However, most of the students requested Full Size or Queen Size kits. Sew, it's off to the drawing board for me to re-figure and re-draft this pattern in a larger size. We'll be using the original pattern which is super well-written and has lots of great illustrations. I just need to help the students make it larger.  If you're reading this and would like to join us on Sunday (10-4), be sure to contact me or call the shop (740-775-1957).
  I'm half-way done with another super-cool quilt that I'm gearing up to finish.  I hope to have this pattern done by late next week:
  As you can see, there's still a lot to be done, but some of that is because of the 'help' I received from my assistant:
I was laying out my growing quilt on the floor as I assembled the top and pressed my new blocks. As I looked over my shoulder, sweet Laci was innocently gazing at me from her comfortable place on my work-in-progress. With a smile I turned back to my work. As I prepared to add the next row of blocks to the growing top I was horrified to notice:
Laci had been a very busy girl.  She had studiously 'unsewn' one of those danged curved seams forcing me to rip out an entire block to repair the damage.
 I have been blessed by the company of at least 12 dogs in my 37 years of marriage. Did I ever learn about puppies and chewing in all those years??  Apparently that answer is "Nooooooo."  Next time my willing assistant asks to help I'll say, "Want to help?  DON'T HELP."
  Wishing you a warm and wonderful full-in-your-face summer week!!  Hope to see you at the 'hop!  In Stitches, Rita

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trailer Trash

I dragged a trailer to Shipshe last week,
And I backed it up without missing a beat!
    Well, maybe not missing a beat or two,
    But it sure wasn’t easy….just let me tell you!

   It was a great time we had at the NQA Quilt Show in Columbus two weeks ago, and immediately following that fun event we headed to Indiana's Amish community, Shipshewana, for a great 5 days at the Shipshewana Quilt Festival.
 Shipshewana has these stunning gardens that have been laid out like quilt squares. I was almost standing on top of the Stitch Mobile, and still it's not a great picture, but maybe you get the idea!
  We were really exhausted after coming off the NQA Show. I had a great Mystery Class and we had a large booth....and of course, we ran out of product. (for those of you who do not vend at shows, this is a GOOD thing!)  I had no time to order more stock and have it shipped to our shop, sew I ordered it to be shipped to our hotel in Shipshewana, and then I picked some of it up at the Checker Distributor's warehouse. Checker is our main source for product, plus I am a demonstrator and consultant for them, sew we love to take a bit of time and visit the warehouse and fondle all the beautiful fabrics whenever we have an excuse! 
  Because we have a triple booth in Shipshewana, we needed a lot of product and a lot of fixtures....and a LOT of help! I was teaching two days and needed plenty of staff in the booth, sew there were a total of 4 of us heading to Indiana. This meant the Stitch Mobile needed some extra seats (rather than just the driver and passenger) and that meant less room for merchandise. And THAT meant I had to drag a trailer.....again.
  I'm a pretty good driver (well over 600,000 miles and no accident) but, backing up a trailer....well, it's just not a pretty sight.
  The gang and I hit Checker on Tuesday last week and loaded up all the goodies that had not been shipped ahead. We had a lovely lunch and then turned left and drove to Shipshewana.  
We were able to set up our booth between the hours of 4 and 8pm. Did I mention I had a triple booth??  Yeowza!  Of course, we got the goods unloaded, then we scratched our heads and considered the possibilities then before we were ejected from the booth we managed to hang all the quilt and set up the bones.

    With visions of how the booth was to be set, we headed to the hotel. We dropped the trailer!!!!!  (Can I tell you how excited I am that we could do that?! Last year we had to drag it all over Shipshe because we never got out of the show before all the stores were closed and we didn't have a trailer lock!)
  Sew I backed the trailer into the parking space. (First shot!  Can I brag?!)
  Janice-the-camper gave good instructions and support! 
     The hitch was lifted off the tow-ball.
     Then I had to wrap the safety chains and lock the trailer down.
     The Count made sure I had a good assortment of locks from which to choose!
     First lock on!
 Second lock on!
 I remembered to remove the tow-hitch!!
And put it together sew we had all the parts when we were ready to re-hitch the trailer!

A GREAT sense of freedom to drop the trailer!
  Now it was time for dinner!
  Last year friends at Checker suggested that if we wanted a glass of wine or beer with dinner we drive to a cute little sports bar in LaGrange, 10 miles east of Shipshewana. No prob!!  We headed east (last year we were dragging the trailer, remember?) and stopped at a place that looked like a sports bar, and we were able to pull in to the spot in front of the bar on the street, and were guaranteed to be able to still pull forward when we left.  Upon walking into the establishment we quickly discovered that it was a biker bar, and not the family sports bar we were seeking (another story for another time!).  Eventually we found the little restaurant we were seeking (Grossman's Restaurant in LaGrange, IN).  We had such a nice time (and such a reasonable bill!) that we ate there every night we were in Shipshewana ~~  last year AND this year!  Highly recommended!
     Sew, trailer-free we zoomed to our 'Cheers' in Lagrange, IN.  We had a great time and a great meal!  Headed back to the hotel and next morning bright-and-early we were back in our booth putting on the finishing touches.

      We had a great show and had LOTS of fun!  As usual there are many, many stories, most we can't share on a blog :-)  [But we're always willing to share in person!!]  Unfortunately it was freezing in the vendor mall.  But really ~ when your business is quilts, is there any reason to freeze??  (And of course, there's always a chick having a Hot Flash!!  lol!)
    At the end of the show, Saturday at 4pm, we hitched up our trailer and loaded it up with our fixtures and the remains of the show.

    We poured ourselves into our assigned seats, grabbed some food-to-go (from Grossman's!!) and slithered our way southeast to Columbus, Circleville and Stoutsville. We were all in bed by midnight. Ahhhh....
     Next day: Family Picnic!

    In a couple days The Count and I head to New York for a bit of R&R(&S) ~ Ron and Rita and Shannon, NY daughter.  Looking forward to sharing more fun with you!  Until then, I head to the garden for the continuation of more weeding and leave you ~~ In Stitches, Rita