Friday, July 31, 2009

And now, the rest of the story!

Yesterday was quite a day - very good and very, very bad. Let's start with the bad and get it over with - our brother Jeff had a heart attack yesterday and that pretty much sapped the life out of the rest of us. I was here in Florida taking part in the good part of the day - while Laurie and family were at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor waiting on word while doctors worked on Jeff. So keep him in your thoughts and prayers - that was the most dismal of days for us.
Now we need to keep focused and positive thoughts for him, he is a competitor and we are hoping he can win this battle - but it was a serious one and we are saddened and praying for a great recovery.

While the rest of the family attended to the most important task for us all - I was in the middle of a photo shoot here. I will attach a few teasers, you have to wait until spring when American Patchwork & Quilting hits the stands and you can see what they have been working on. They were a delight to have here and it helped me get through a most difficult day - we kept busy and all said our silent prayers for Jeff.

Jennifer Keltner was here for the shoot and that made it special, I love the photos they took and know you will also. The other good part of the day is the photographer is an old friend who I have worked with before, so was great to see him again.

I have no idea how I would have gotten through the day, so far away from everyone, if this great crew was not here and keeping me very busy.


Postscript - Jeff had a good night last night and we are cautiously optimistic.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Random Thoughts on Piecing

I am sipping cappuccino this morning contemplating my work from yesterday. I am making pinwheels. I have some more to do today. This batch was made using two different techniques. I felt kind of wild and crazy and decided to do a little experimenting. I made about half of them cutting squares and layering them. I drew a line on the diagonal and sewed on it and trimmed away one of the sides. I then pressed and put 4 half square triangles together to make a pinwheel. I made the HST's oversized and then trimmed the pinwheel down to the correct size - 3 1/2" square.The other half of the stack were made with Thangles. It was the first time I have used them. Nifty. They made for accurate piecing. They are made correct size and there is no trimming. My only complaint is that is was kind of slow going. A few more steps to get to the final project. At least for me it seemed that way. I am happy with the way they are turning out, though.

Which brings me to what has been on my mind - the pressing. This is how I pressed the first set of pinwheels - all the seams open.With the Thangles batch the first press is to one side as this is made while the paper is still attached. Once I had the HST's made - I pressed the last 2 seams open.
Both are good. If I had to choose, I think I prefer all the seams pressed open. Which brings me to this thought - what is this business lately with all the seams pressed open? There has been talk about it and it is much more common today than it was a few years ago. My friend Carrie, of Miss Rosie's fame, discussed it a bit awhile ago and asked me my preference.

I do have some theories and I will share them and take them with a grain of salt. It's only a theory, but I do think I have an interesting perspective on it. My longevity, basically.

It wasn't long ago that all quilting seams were pressed to one side. Usually to the darker fabric. Always to one side and no one questioned it. It was done this way as long as anyone could remember and that was JUST THE WAY IT WAS. When this pressing law came into being and was enforced all through the land, well, things were different. Pressing to one side made structural sense. It was not that long ago that making a quilt meant you were going to hand quilt it. There really wasn't much of an alternative. You could run it through your Singer or you could tie it - but basically it meant you were hand quilting it. It also meant there was a good chance that you were hand piecing it too. Not all were hand pieced, but certainly a good percentage were. This meant that pressing the seams to one side strengthened the seam. Hand pieced seams that are pressed open might have little gaps. Another good reason for pressing to one side meant that when you are hand quilting you have at least one side of the seam that was seam allowance free. Easier quilting. If you look at old quilting designs this was taken into consideration and many quilting designs were quilted on only one side of a seam. Pressing to one side made sense and helped your quilting. This is not true today. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but certainly not written in stone like it used to be. Hand piecing? Rare. Hand quilting? A small percentage of all quilts made.

So what does this mean? I think it means that if your piecing and accuracy improves with pressing the seams open, by all means do so. Back to work.....


Friday, July 24, 2009

I Think There Has Been Some Kind of Mistake

When Polly and I did lectures and trunk shows together we got lots of interesting questions. Our favorite was "How did you two meet?" Well, if you didn't know, we're sisters. Which takes us to the most popular question we were asked. It has been asked at every venue that we have been at together and usually at our solo talks too - "Who else in your family was creative?" In our immediate family - no one. Cold hearted, huh. But when it comes to sewing and needle arts - or any fine arts for that matter - we don't have anyone else. As for extended family - there are some. Did I say we are Irish and raised Catholic? There is a LOT of extended family. But, in the generation before us, I don't know of anyone who sewed other than simple home maintenance, i.e. mending. Polly and I each wanted an end product (me a quilt, and Polly a rug) and worked at it until we had one. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

Which brings us to the question of the day.....are we congressmen from Idaho? There has been some interesting keyword searches that have brought traffic to our website. I got a nice email and a "heads up" from a political reporter and it seems that Idaho has 2 congressmen that represents them in D.C. and their names are Minnick and Simpson. Funny. No, no relation. Never even been to Idaho.

Have a great weekend, folks!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend Update

I'm looking forward to doing some stitching tomorrow as I have caught up on lots of chores. Yeah! I might even start a quilt - just for the heck of it!

Lizzie spent an exciting morning observing the local Bunny. The Bunny has been spending a lot of time in the yard lately. He is obviously the same Bunny from last year that rang our doorbell (or a close relative). Here is a better look at him.This guy kept a good eye on Lizzie too - this went on for about an hour and a half. The other exciting news for the day is this. Pulled Pork on the grill. Bill and I have been working on this since this morning and we should be able to enjoy tonight. I have made pulled pork before, but it has been in the oven. We did some reading and hopefully it will turn out. It smells heavenly. Those are soaked hickory chips that are giving off the smoke.

We are meatless more days than not. We have even contemplated going vegetarian and will be all gung-ho for a few days, but things like pulled pork will occur to us and that will go by the wayside. Pulled Pork! And bacon. Next month the tomatoes will come in and we will eat nothing but BLTs, corn on the cob and melon for days on end. Good times.


Friday, July 17, 2009



I thought I would actually write on our blog - as you know this is pretty much Laurie's territory, and why change when it is working so well as it is . Just so you know, I am here, I thought I would send a photo for you to enjoy. I am heading off to Nantucket to teach a rug hooking workshop for the Nantucket Historical Association, something you may want to consider in the future. The Association has so many wonderful workshops - you imagine the class, and they probably have it in their directory. As I pack to be gone for a week, I was starting to dread being away for that time. I thought I would post the photo of beautiful Nantucket Harbor, so I could look forward to my trip. If you have not visited Nantucket, you should put it in your "to do" travel plans. It is a beautiful spot. The Nantucket Country Gallery has a Rug Show/Exhibit of my work each year, and I will be there next weekend. I will try to post photos when I return!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 Ann Arbor Art Fair

Hey, it's been awhile. Despite being very busy, I have had a dearth of interesting stuff to put on the blog (like that's stopped me before) Well, that has ended. The Ann Arbor Art Fair is here!! I stepped across the street bright and early this morning and waited for the bus to take me downtown.A bus is mandatory as trying to drive or park anywhere near is migraine inducing. Once past the shows on Main, Liberty, State, etc. I headed to the original show and the most prestigious - the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair on N. University. This show is now in it's 50 year. My first stop was to stop by the booth of Lynn Whipple a mixed media artist. You will recognize her stuff. You have seen it in Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion, Cloth-Paper-Scissors, and Fiber Arts Magazine. She had a great Flag that took up one wall of her booth. It is a collage of paper, photographs and a salvaged quilt. Fantastic.We commiserated about the loss of Home Companion. Sigh.
Across from her booth was Hill Auditorium and the Ann Arbor Pottery Guild that sets up shop there every year.My friend Dorie has some of her pottery there.Next was another interesting take on the American Flag. It is by Brad Devlin of Louisville Kentucky.
There was another theme at this year's fair that called out to me..... dresses.
These painting/collages are by Katherine Allen-Coleman.
These sculptural dresses are by John Petrey of Chattanooga Tennessee. Awesome.The most fun thing I saw was this fabric collage at Chris Roberts-Antieau's booth. She is a local artist and you have probably also seen her stuff around. She has a distinct look. This collage of Neil Diamond has Neil wearing a shirt made of fabric designed by Tula Pink!!! Tula's fabric sure gets around. Her stuff was also featured in some room decor on the show Monk. Tula's famous.
On my way back home from the art fair I walked by many, many retail booths selling stuff. I have been on a 3 year mission to buy a Michigan sweatshirt. I want one that A) is 100% cotton, and B) is without a HOOD. You think it would be easy in Ann Arbor. You would be wrong.T-shirts - yes. Hooded sweatshirts by the gazillion - yes. These dang kids and their hooded sweatshirts! And in closing, what would the art fair be without these.2 more days of this folks. Head on over. My photo's hardly do the artists justice. Please click on the photos to get a better view!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

History Detective

Have you seen Carrie's or Camille's blogs? They are posting about 1st quilts. I am probably too late for their "parade of quilts", but their posts had me rummaging through closets. Basically they are asking bloggers to post photos of their first quilt and their most recently finished quilt. Okay. If you really want to see. Let me explain a little about this first quilt. I was 14. I saw a quilt in a magazine (Women's Day) and wanted one. There were no quilts in the family nor was anyone a quilter nor did any sewing like that. Our sister-in-law Sonie did make clothes. I went at it at full speed. I found a book in the library on quilts. It was published in the 1960's. This was 1972. I borrowed a neighbors sewing machine and some of her scraps. The other fabrics were bought at Kresge's 5 & Dime, an 1/8th of a yard at a time. Those Kresge clerks hated to see me walk in the door. It is a one patch. I didn't know what a one patch was - but I made one. I cut out the pieces "by eye." You are starting to get the picture aren't you?Another neighbor told me that ALL quilts were tied. Despite my evidence of the photo in the magazine, I succumbed and tied it. The backing is a polyester/cotton sheet, so it is probably best that I didn't try to hand quilt it. That came later in my second quilt. It lived on my bed and went away to college with me. It is now a bed for cats in the bottom of Bill's closet. I tried to throw it away several years ago, but Bill salvaged it from the garbage. It is an archive of 1960's and 70's fabrics. Hardly any are 100% cotton.

I will show my most recent quilts. Okay, not my most recent, but I have 4 tops/quilts in progress and they are for future patterns. These are the most recent before those. There isn't a whole lot of evolution except for the quality of materials and the fact I have rulers now - and I use them. The top on the left is my prototype of the quilt Seaside. It is still a top and hasn't been quilted yet. The one on the right is Seaside made with Wiscasset fabrics.
One patch to a nine patch. I guess that is progress.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July!!

Happy 4th Everyone! Hope you get to relax and spend some time with family and friends. Polly just got back from visiting 2 of her sons and she is getting ready to go to Nantucket to teach, so it will be a laid back holiday for her. Me too. I am wrapping up some pattern writing, some fabric cutting, some quilting, and some Wimbledon watching. Oh, and some barbecuing tomorrow also. No big plans. Isn't that vase of Polly's great? You can get them here.
This quilt is an antique and is one of the many pictures I have saved of flag quilts. Here is another.We were described this week as "The Queens of Red, White, and Blue." Well, if the shoe fits. We will leave you with some of our favorite 4th things.Thanks


PS - Both Laurie and I promised Colonel James that we would continue to work for troops - a dedicated Mom and the most loyal of aunts - we continue to do what he asks. So, the final Semper Fi # 4 kit is listed on our website this weekend. We are very proud of our efforts, thanks to all of you who have been so supportive! - Polly.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Christmas In July

This is a holiday weekend isn't it? (come back tomorrow for a True Blue Minick and Simpson 4th of July post). No, we are not in a time warp or hallucinating. Jingles has been shipped to quilt shops this past week and here is a little taste to get you in the holiday mood. Polly has been stating (whining) that she REALLY wanted a nightshirt made from our new Jingles flannel. Here is the first of many Christmas nightshirts and pajama sets.Leigh Ann, our go-to gal for emergency quilting and garment sewing came to our rescue. Thanks Leigh Ann! I am cutting out a pajama set for myself this weekend. Polly has been making her Christmas list and it seems that a whole lot of Minick kids might be getting p.j.'s and pillow cases this Christmas. Don't tell.
You can find this and lots more of this collection at the Fat Quarter Shop. Leigh Ann used the Pajama Party pattern from Taylormade Designs. I am thinking that I will use the Sleep Well pattern from Favorite Things. I will keep you posted on my project. Sleep Tight!


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