Thursday, April 29, 2010


Have I got your attention? Has the cutest puppy in the whole wide world made you smile? (adorable photo shamelessly purloined from No, I don't know this little guy or anything about him - I have just been smiling at this photo for a couple of days and thought you would like it too.

Now that I have your undivided attention - Hey! Look what showed up Monday morning....These are a few pieces of "Clermont Farms," our new collection that I have been working with. My rotary cutter is smokin'. The featherweight is taking a rest and I am trimming blocks. It's my new favorite collection. Polly named this collection after a family farm owned by our cousin who bred race horses. For all of you attending quilt market, we will have 4 new quilts made with Clermont Farms - assuming the featherweight holds up. Look for a giveaway soon - a few choice pieces and the leftover scraps after the 4 tops go to the quilter. If all goes well, that will be next week.

As I have been cutting and piecing, I have kept the dvd player going with some favorite love stories. I watched these 2 today and soon I had a pile of finished blocks. First was North and South - another British costume drama. It is based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell (who wrote Cranford) and was recommended to me by a friend. It's wonderful. Consider it recommended to you. Second was a odd, quirky movie that has become a favorite here - Stranger Than Fiction. It's hard to describe without making it sound too weird, but it's an original love story that might have the sweetest, most life affirming ending ever.

Well, it's back to work. Later


Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Loss - Your Gain

What the.....????? Two blog posts in less than 24 hours? Correct. No fabric yet. Zilch. Nil. Still waiting, sitting on the front porch, doing my best to lure UPS drivers onto the property.

I did receive some good new yesterday. First of all - this came in the mail.Our friend Carrie's new book. Our copy is autographed with a personal note. We are beside ourselves. Carrie makes the most sophisticated quilts very easy - and of course, with pre-cuts. It doesn't get better than that. Reserve your copy now.

Secondly, we have very good news in Casa Simpson. Lorelei is getting married! We are giddy and weepy at the same time. Lorelei and Dan will hitch-up sometime this winter in Dallas. It will be a small, low-key affair. So low-key that Lori has asked me for a special gift. She has asked me to make the wedding cake! I have made many birthday cakes, but this will be a first.
I am cramming for the final, so to speak. This arrived yesterday.
I am taking Ms. Wilson's word for it and crossing my fingers. All of you out there who are wont to do it - please light candles, say prayers, and beseech the universe for good cake karma. I wouldn't want the day to suffer because of a cake mis-hap. Like these poor people here (all following content and photos are from

Imagine the happy couple taking this photo into their baker and asking for an elegant blue cake just like a Tiffany's box. Lovely, isn't it.
Unfortunately, this is what the baker delivered on the big day.Let's hope I don't have a bit of a brain freeze and do something like this. Such a lovely cake, but a bit of a spelling problem.
Or how about this poor, poor couple who gave this photo of their dream cake to the baker. Elegant, sophisticated, and evident of either the bride or groom's Scottish heritage. Beautiful. Sadly, this is what arrived.
This will be the fodder for my nightmares in the upcoming weeks. Later.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Calm Before The Storm

I have heard from people who know, that our new fabric collection is en route to my front door. Everyone here is getting ready for all the activity. There will be no rest once it is arrives.Gibby was sitting beside me last night while I stitched. He is even good company when he is sound asleep. Even when he is snoring.
He fits right in here at Casa Simpson as he snores, well, like a Simpson.

If you follow this blog, you know I went to Chicago last week. Did you know I went again? It was a last minute decision Friday night as I was still fabric deprived. I started out early Saturday morning and was at International Quilt Festival shortly after it opened. I did a quick pass through the vendors booths and said hello to some old and new friends and then viewed the show. It was really grand. Here are some photos below and go here for more.

The photos are of the antique quilts that were displayed. I always gravitate towards the old ones. I think they offer good lessons on our contemporary quilt making. This one reminds me that some of the best patterns are the simplest patterns. Nothing extraordinary here except for the fantastic choice of fabrics.We also sometimes believe that our quilts have to be perfect. We rip out seams and abandon projects because they just don't come together quite right. And then I see something like this.... It's a little wonky, but all the better for it.
Or when the quilt literally just doesn't measure up - just lop off a piece.When I struggle over border designs, I must remember that even the simplest element, repeated again and again, is stunning.When I believe that an imagined project is just too daunting and it would be best not to even start, I see something like this and know that all I have to do is just put in a few stitches every day, and sooner or later I can have something like this.And finally, when students ask me to help them pick out fabrics that "match" I will remember to say that the best quilts don't have fabrics that match - but fabrics that work together.Would you ever pick out these fabrics and think they would look fantastic in a quilt? Me neither. We both would be wrong.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Idle Time

There is one by-product of not having our fabric delivered yet. Polly and I are making ourselves crazy trying to keep busy. Not crazy enough to do a thorough spring cleaning of the house, but almost. See, I know if I started that job - the fabric would be delivered mid scrub - and I would have to abandon the project half clean. That's my story.....

Polly is a bit more productive. She has made up a few kits. Here is her "Patriotic Parcheesi" kit
This kit can be ordered here. Again, supply is limited. It will be packaged in the patriotic sand pail and will include the hand drawn linen, the wool, and ticking for binding. The rug measures 22" x 22".

This is not the second kit in her Patriotic Series. That is still coming next month.

Oh, and speaking of limited supplies, our kit for Summer Cabins is now gone. Thanks for the great response. If you missed out - look for my quilt kit next month - also to be packaged in the patriotic sand pail. Think summer, water, sand pails, and other things Minick and Simpson.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Keeping Myself Busy

Still Waiting. Waiting for our new fabric collection to drop on the porch so we can get sewing and quilting. What's a girl to do when you're just a bit antsy and no real work ahead of you for the day? Day Trip! This is my view from the coach seat on the train at 7am yesterday morning.This is how to amuse yourself on a 4 hour train trip. Some applique to keep busy. By mid morning I was in Chicago. I went to see the Matisse exhibit at the Institute of Art. It was fabulous and if you get a chance to go - DO IT. On my walk from Union Station to the museum was this.A view of the Chicago river and a tour boat. I didn't go yesterday, but I went a few years ago on an architectural tour of Chicago on this boat. Sounds a bit tedious, doesn't it? It wasn't. It remains one of my favorite memories of Chicago, and I LOVE Chicago. Soon I was at the Art Institute.Sorry, but no photos were allowed of the Matisse exhibit. It isn't the paper collages for what he is most known for - it is for a specific time in his career when he was most prolific and when he painted his most famous works 1913-1917. The paintings are powerful and beautiful. Even more enchanting are his simple portrait drawings. A few lines here and there - and a complete personality comes forth. Amazing. What was even more amazing, on the right, in a small alcove, when you left the Matisse exhibit were 20th Century Regional Paintings. I popped in to look. Hmmm, nothing much there except this.
And this.That was a nice bonus. Yes, we have seen these images a zillion times, but to see them in person - well, you know why they are American classics. The glowing light that jumps off the canvas on Nighthawks and the amazing detail of the calico apron, ric-rac trim, and the denim of American Gothic - well it was worth the 4 hour train trip. Just off to the left was 20th Century Decorative Arts. Now we're talking. Got my Art Deco fix.If you like Art Deco, you can have a grand time in Chicago.

After the museum, I punched in my pedestrian GPS on my Blackberry (Awesome!) and wandered around. The only downside is the GPS really sucks the juice out of your phone and soon the battery was worn down. I popped into a cellular phone store and bought a travel charger and then went to Starbucks and relaxed while my phone charged. This was the view outside the Starbucks window. The Corn Cob Buildings.
After some dinner I made my way back to Union Station for the trip home. What a great way to spend the day. If anyone reading this is going to Quilt Festival in Rosemont Illinois this weekend - try to spend some time in the City.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sitting, Stitching, and Waiting

I have gotten a lot of stitching done. It's the berry project. While I would love to show you - it now has been decided that it will be published in an upcoming book. (Along with some of Polly's rugs) You will just have to hear about it for a little while more. I have caught up on some things I have saved on the dvr and of course, baseball has started. All I will say about that is - after my disappointment at the end of last year and the heartbreak of certain off-season trades..... for the first time in a long time I wasn't very excited about opening day. I am watching, but I'm still emotionally distant, if you know what I mean. We'll see how that plays out over the summer.

What I did watch is Bright Star, a movie about the life of poet John Keats. If you like costume dramas - this is for you. Emphasis on the costumes!!!! Oh My! The love interest of Keats is Fanny Brawne who is a "fashion woman and seamstress". Take a peek.It is a movie that is just lovely to look at. Jane Campion directed it and like all Campion movies it can be a bit slow. There are long loving shots of people contemplating things and long periods without dialogue, but oh, the visuals!
I am fascinated with this sweater. I think it's crocheted, but if anyone knows for sure - make sure to let us all know. What a stunner.

Which brings me to one of the wonderful things about my love of costume drama/Jane Austen/Anglophile movies. The fabrics and colors. A few months ago on Masterpiece Classics was Austen's Emma. It was a great version of this classic and one of the cool things about it was the sets and the costumes.I couldn't find pictures of the chartreuse and fuchsia furniture, but they were scrumptious. It was almost as if Austen was being channeled by our own Tula Pink. I'm am not the only one who notices such things. Another Moda designer, Barbara Brackman has written about this too. Contemplating these vintage costumes, fabrics, and colors has been a nice diversion over the traumatic Bones episode this week. Is it too much to ask - to watch something while I stitch that doesn't break my heart??


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Older Sisters

In the recent American Patchwork & Quilting article about Minick and Simpson, you may have gotten the impression that Polly is a bossy older sister. She is not. Polly offers her experience and wisdom, (and the occasional wisecrack) but she isn't bossy. The magazine offered this tidbit tongue-in-cheek. Our sibling experience is just too unconventional to display the obvious sibling rivalry. We didn't occupy the same space when we were kids - the age difference being what it is. There are no stories of annoyance, betrayals, and humiliations. Too bad, as this would be a great place to offer them up. I will have to ask Mike and Jeff. Our brothers are very close in age to Polly and they might have some memories :) This is Polly's grandson Michael and his two older sisters - Shelby and Rachel. They went para-sailing yesterday. They are pretty close in age too. These three terrific kids live close to me and I see them fairly regularly. I don't ever see this stereotypical behavior from them either. They are siblings and good friends. It's good thing they are, because if they weren't - two older sisters might make this experience more annoying than exhilarating. Can you believe how appropriate that parachute is for the Minick family?

Bill has older sisters too. Here he is with Mary and Margie. Carolyn is camera shy.
The four of them tell lots of tales of childhood; happy stories with much laughter. He is a fiercely loyal little brother with 3 "mother hens" who watched his every move. Even the stories of annoyance and humiliation are offered with good humor and love. Actually, Bill is just grateful there isn't photographic evidence of the girls favorite childhood game - dressing Bill up in doll clothes and pushing him around the neighborhood in the stroller. I can't say that I am - I would love to see those pictures.


A little shout- out to Grant Minick (on the left) who is the older brother of Emily Minick (on the right)They are the cousins of the para-sailors. Grant was named First Team for Prince William Country Swim Team. Way to go Grant!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! This is an antique rug. Polly and I both scour antiques looking for ideas for new projects. We get color pallet ideas, border ideas, scale, motif and theme. This particular rug is for sale and be found here.

I have spent the day doing domestic things. I was shopping at 7:30 this morning. Here is a picture of the famous Zingerman's Deli. You actually can see the front of the store - since it's so early. Believe me, later in the day the line will go out the door and wrap around the block.
Across the street is the Farmer's Market. I was hoping to find local asparagus, but it is too soon. This is what is available today.
It was great to see after a long winter.

Thank you so much, everyone for your kind words, emails, and messages regarding the new issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. I even have people tell me about it at the grocery store! - Thanks Sheila. Happy Easter Everyone.


Friday, April 2, 2010


Spring fever is here. Despite the fact I have tons of stuff to do and an incredible amount of housework, it's hard to stay focused. It's sunny and 76 degrees. Everyone wants to be outside. Especially him.Gibby is trying to stop me from stitching and to take him for a walk. He won this argument.
I will also try to take some time this weekend to look through some new quilt books.The first two book are from museums in Great Britain. Classic Quilts is about the antique quilts in the American Museum in Britain and Quilts 1700-2010 is about the current exhibiton and the Victoria and Albert museum. I have never met a book about antique quilts I didn't love. I can't wait to curl up on the sofa with them. The last book is The Quilt - A history and celebration of an American Art Form by Elise Schebler Roberts.

If all that doesn't give you spring fever - there's these - my new shoes!New white tennies with polka-dotted laces!

Have a great holiday weekend!


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