Welcome to Sew in the Snow Blog

This blog is about my passions in life: family, quilting, and new adventures. Quilting is my main passion! I also love my family tirelessly and devote most of my energy to my young preschool girls and my husband. This blog will be about my creative process in quilting and some about being a Mom in this busy world. Being of Irish descent, I love a good story. So buckle in, here we go!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reader Input

Hi, I've been wondering if there is anything that you, the reader, would be interested in seeing on this blog.  In particular, I'm curious if there's any questions you have for me or for the featured Etsy artist that I interview.  Just let me know in the comment section!

Feb 29 is the last day of my 25 % off knitting needle clutch sale!  I added two new clutches today.  They are pink and purple batik fireweed prints.  I love them, since I live in Fairbanks, we get a lot of dark pink fireweed growing in the summer.  

Pink Fireweed

Purple Fireweed


Monday, February 27, 2012

9 Patch Table Runner -- Tutorial

 I want to make a quick table runner with 9 patches.  I have a few 9 patches left over from a different project.  So, I Googled "9 patch table runner".  I found two unique methods to make a 9 patch table runner  in which you cut a 9 patch in half then rearrange the pieces.  It's called the Disappearing 9 Patch table runner.

9 Patch in half

 You start with a 9 patch, then cut it in half.  Then, cut it in half again, so that you have 4 equal pieces.

Then align them so that the small squares are in the center and sew it together.  Presto!  You have a table runner. 

I added a border, because my origianl block was only 6.5" (6"finished) so it was too narrow for my taste.

Check out these blogs where I found the pattern.

Peony Teacup blog: She reverses the quarter pieces so that the small squares are on the outside.  A totally different look with the same basic block.

Spool blog: I used her technique, with the small squares forming a kind of latter on the inside. 

She used a larger block, with 4" squares, so there was no need for a border.  I was using "left-over" blocks that were made from 2.5" blocks.  So, it was too small to leave without a border. 
new block--sorry, it's sideways.  

finished runner

Friday, February 24, 2012

Featured Artist: Monika from Quiltlovers

 I am enjoying this interview with Monika from Etsy's Quiltlovers shop today as my Friday Featured Artist. She is an exceptional quilter.  Her work is beautiful, fresh, and fun. I was first drawn to her work when I was participating in a Quiltsy team discussion.  I saw a picture of her Ice Tea Batik Lap Quilt and I loved the earth-tones and the simple pattern which allowed the fabric to really sing.  She is also a warm and friendly person that is easy to chat with. 


What originally gave you the idea to create such an interesting Etsy shop?
Drop Dead Gorgeous
After retiring from long haul truck driving in 2006 I decided to pursue my quilting hobby more diligently and get myself a longarm quilting machine with the intend of quilting for others.  I purchased my APQS FREEDOM after considerable research and while waiting for it to arrive, I made quilt tops of every size so I would have something to practice on when my baby arrived. Well, it turned out that the Quilt tops became real nice Quilts and I had no idea what to do with them at that point. A friend suggested I open a Store on Etsy, and the rest is history.

Oriental Elegance
Ideas are often so hard to implement—tell us a bit about how you started and what were your first steps in creating your niche in the Etsy and handmade community.
I prefer to make simple Quilts, the “million piecers” as I call them, have never been my strength. So I started out with 5” Charm Squares, lap Quilts right up to king size and everyone sold. By making the Quilts simple, but using name brand fabrics, and machine quilting all myself, I am able to offer a good product at an   
affordable price.

Quiltlovers Patchwork
Could you share some tips on how someone would go about growing an Etsy shop or online presence?
Being successful on Etsy is all about being seen. You can’t just open a store, list something and sit back and wait for the customer. Competition is fierce, therefore you have to be in your buyers face all the time. Visibility is the key and if you are running a business, you need to list, renew, relist 24/7. Good Customer Service is imperative. I have branded my Shop name, my banner appears on my business cards, my stationary, my Etsy Shop address is my signature on everything I sent via the internet and hard copy. I have decals on the back windows of our Pick Up Trucks with my logo and shop address, my husband and I leave business cards everywhere we go. I made the business card into a mailing label and it is on every package I sent out, after all, postal workers are customers too. Visibility is key for a small business like me.

What is your main hurdle in running your Etsy site to date?
My main hurdle is getting my fabrics at prices on par with my US counterparts.
After the Rain
Being Canadian, I have to go through Representatives for various Manufacturers and Designers and that drives the price of a yard of fabric up considerably.

What are some of the most interesting forums you’ve seen develop on the Etsy site or your personal website.
I don’t have time to spend on the general forum. I subscribe to the Etsy newsletter, which keeps me informed as to what is new and changing. I belong to several Teams and I am very active on the Quiltsy Team, where I have been a member since it started in 2007.

Iced Tea
What is the structure behind the scenes—how many people do you have working on your shop at the moment?
My shop is operated by me, myself and I. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to be successful and when I am not making Quilts, I am quilting someones Quilt or marketing and promoting.

How do you promote your business? Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or other?
I have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Blog, a longarm machine quilting website. I am on Pinterest, Stumble upon, LinkedIn, and I am sure somewhere else. Too much and I really can’t keep up with it all.

Describe the process of creating one of your handmade items.
The process to make my patchwork Quilts is really very simple. I purchase fat quarter collections, cut them all up, sew them back together again, border and quilt them. I have a line of “Drop Dead Gorgeous Quilts”, named so by my Husband, backed with minky, which can be found all over the world.

Fun Facts:

List 3 adjectives that describe you.
determined, dedicated, fun-loving

What is your favorite food?
New York Cheesecake, fresh caught Walleye, baked Potato

If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?
There are several Animals I can identify with, but my favorite at the moment is the Siberian Husky. We are determined, hard working, dependable, protective, kind, love to snuggle and we are very good looking!

Wow! Thanks Monika for sharing your insights with us!  What an interesting and unique story.  From truck driver to professional quilter.  She is a successful Etsian and quilter, which I find inspirational!  I'm sure you're all very curious about her shop!  Check it out on Etsy: Quiltlover

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Baking and Aprons

I love aprons! My Grandma always wore an apron when she baked.  She had them hanging in the kitchen.  There were at least four aprons there, all the old fashioned floral aprons, large enough to cover a pretty dress.  She would allow me to pick one, then she would pick one out from the remaining aprons.  It was a small but delightful ceremony we'd go through before baking.

Cooking together for Dinner Club 2009

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day with my Brother... baking Apple Pie 2010

I am a baker and I'm teaching my girls how to bake just like my Mom and my Grandma taught me.  I've been baking with them since they were able to sit up.  I wear an apron to keep the flour off of me if I'm kneading bread or pizza dough.  When baking with my two little helpers, it tends to be messy!  So we all have aprons.  My girls love to wear their aprons.  Recently, I let them pick out fabric that I can sew into new aprons for them.  Very cute stuff!

Jessie eating butter before we start baking 2009

 I have just finished embroidering a new design for an apron that I love.  It's a cupcake apron for sale in my Etsy shop.  It reminds me of all the cupcakes I've made and the fun parties I've been to with cupcakes.  Such a happy mental picture for me.  Cupcakes are so festive, it'd be hard not to smile at one.
New Cupcake Apron 2012

I love cupcakes!
I've noticed the new trend for aprons is the pretty and frilly aprons of the 50's.  I think they're really cute, and some are even sexy.  I still don't have one... I'm not sure it's really me.  However, I have thought of making one just to see what my husband says!  We have a tradition of making a pizza together on Friday nights.  I think he may really like a frilly little apron... and who knows where that could lead?  *grin*

Do you ever wear an apron?  If so, what kind?  Do you wear it to bake, cook, or grill?  I've found that mostly bakers wear aprons, not really most home cooks.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sneak Preview: Friday's Featured Artist is Monika from Quiltlover

Ice Tea Batik Lap Quilt in Coffee and Creme colors 58"" x 76"

I'm excited!  I wanted to give a tiny sneak preview of Monika from Quiltlover on Etsy.  Here's her profile from Etsy:

"Hello, My name is Monika and I am a Quilt Lover. I started quilting in the 1980's and pursued it as a hobby. Since retirement from long haul truck driving in Nov. 2006 I became more serious about my hobby and I am now busy making quilts and have established my business as a Long-Arm Quilter with my APQS Freedom. I have 3 very serious Fans which are welcome in my Studio anytime, the cutest little Miss Molly, a 4 year old Border Terrier Mix and Misty, a Siberian Husky with the most beautiful blue eyes as well as our newest addition, a 5 year old Toy Fox Terrier that needed a home. Their unconditional Love and Trust makes every day a special day.  Life is good."

She will be the featured artist for this Friday.  There will be an interview, just like last week with Karen Colbert of Tahoe Quilts.

Quilting Gifts: Baby Shower and Wedding

Quilting Gifts
I love to make gifts for presents.  I think that it shows how much you care to create something specifically for an individualA gift that is designed with the recipient in mind demonstrates how well you know the person and that you are willing to spend time on him/her when time is the most precious commodity in our society.  Of course, there isn't always time for a full-size quilt.  But, there are so many options for a quilter and knitter (such as myself) that I have plenty of things to choose from.

So, this week I have a baby shower to attend and a wedding that has surprised me by it's date.  I was planning on making a baby quilt and a lap quilt for gifts.  Now I'm not sure I have the time.  Ah... time... it rears it's head again!

Baby Shower Gift

    I texted my friend to see what color schemes has in mind for her baby, but she didn't respond.  So, I decided to make something I've been looking at for a couple of years but didn't have anyone to make it for.   It's bright green frogs--very cute--but she prefers blues.  So... now what?

I quickly switched to knitting for the baby shower gift.   I have been knitting gifts for the baby, a cute hat and booties.  I've completed the hat, but the booties are going slowly.  The size 2 knitting needles are soooo slow.  I prefer size 7 or 8 needles for speed; but, hopefully, I'll be able to get them done by Saturday.  :)  I'm sure she'll love them.

Wedding Gift
An embroidered wall hanging with the date and their names?

A friendship wall hanging?

Saturday is also a wedding for a childhood friend.  I wanted to make her a lap quilt, but I don't' think I have the time.  I'd have to finish the top (which I haven't begun) and get it to the quilter by Wednesday.  Then she could quilt it by Friday, then I could bind it by Saturday?  Probably not...  So, I think I may embroider her a wall hanging quilt.  I'm looking at two different patterns... not sure which to do.  Or, maybe both?  Hard to decide.  I've known her for so long, it's like we're sisters.  She is a very good friend, so I want a really special gift.

So many choices for gifts!  I need to get started!

Do you make your gifts?  If so, what is your preferred gift for a baby shower?  for a wedding?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Featured Artist: Karen Colbert of Tahoe Quilts

 This is a new part of my blog.  An interview or review with an artist that has caught my eye.  My first featured artist is Karen Colbert.  I saw her items on my Esty Quiltsy team discussion thread.  Karen's work is splendid!  I love her quilting style.   Her use of color is fascinating and makes her quilts really stand out from the crowd.  On top of that, she is kind and generous to others just beginning on Etsy, such as myself. So, let's see what Karen has to say about herself.  To the interview we go!

What originally gave you the idea to create such an interesting Etsy shop? My Daughter initially encouraged me to open my shop. I hesitated as I wasn’t sure if anyone would buy any of my artwork, especially my expensive pieces, online. I have had a brick & mortar shop for seven years, and figured there was nothing to lose by going online.

I have been creating art quilts and home décor items for 13 years. I worked out of my home for six years, doing outdoor shows and selling my work at two local venues. I then moved into a B&M shop. I am one of the few people in Lake Tahoe who do fabric art, and the only person (that I know of) that sells their work. I have a distinct style, all designs are my original ideas, and I offer a product that no one else sells. I started creating home décor items, such as runners, as I was displeased with the offerings in stores. After all, why in the fall, would a store sell beige runners when you have so many gorgeous fall hues to chose from? Hence my foray into the home décor arena.

I figured with 1/6th of the economy being driven by the Internet and having successfully sold my work here at Lake Tahoe, it would make sense to have an Etsy shop. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I took my daughters advice and jumped right in.

Ideas are often so hard to implement—tell us a bit about how you started and what were your first steps in creating your niche in the Etsy and handmade community. I have a web site for my brick & mortar, artistsatlaketahoe.com, which is an art gallery featuring 16 local artists. I had hired a web person to build that site, and implement the “buy now” feature for my art quilts. The problem was keeping it updated. With Etsy, I can build my own site, post my own work, change it, etc. myself without relying upon – and paying – a web person. 

 It was pretty much a business decision to enhance my online exposure with the least amount of web work. I have a link from my web site above to my Etsy shop, and I pass out my Etsy shop business card for people to look at and buy my artwork.

Could you share some tips on how someone would go about growing an Etsy shop or online presence? I opened my shop December 23, 2009. The first year “in business” I didn’t pay much attention to the shop. I would list items periodically, pat myself on the back when I got a sale, but didn’t “work” the shop. I also only listed lower end items, i.e. items under $50. People added me to their treasuries, and a handful of people found my shop. Toward the end of 2010, I began listing items over $50 items, and lo and behold, I sold a $250 piece in January 2011. It has been going well since then.

I use to pull up treasuries at random, heart items, and look to see what other people were excited about. I pulled up other shops featuring quilts, and looked at what they were selling, price points, etc. I did my “homework” to see where I fit into the Etsy marketplace. But the best move, I believe, was joining the Quiltsy Team when asked. This has not only been a wonderful source of friendship, but we support each other as business people, and I definitely feel this led to my financial success in 2011.
I also began a rigorous schedule of listing and renewing items, sometimes as many as five items a day. The new Etsy stats have been wonderful to see what items are being viewed, and what time of day. I have been attempting to list items at 2:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., East coast time, as that is when I get the most shop views. If people are looking at table runners, I list/renew those items. If art quilts, I list/renew those items.

What is your main hurdle in running your Etsy site to date? Marketing. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I am not a Facebook fan, and feel it is a time waster. This will answer the question below, but I am the only person who runs both my Etsy shop and my B&M shop. I make all my own items, I sit at my shop (where I also have my studio) every day, do my own marketing, accounting, and purchasing, and every other task in between. I don’t have the luxury of Tweeting, Facebook-ing, or blogging as I just don’t have the time. And I have to admit, I don’t know much about these avenues or their benefits. My B&M shop and my Etsy shop is my full time business and what I do to make a living. It is not a hobby but a job. And I have to be very careful where I spend my time. I am usually found sitting at home at night with my hubbie of 22 years, hemming, posting on Etsy, and answering emails.

What are some of the most interesting forums you’ve seen develop on the Etsy site or your personal website? I don’t go into the forums often as again, I just don’t have the time. But I do like that if there is an issue, either good or bad, that there is a venue to express your opinions and be heard.

What is the structure behind the scenes—how many people do you have working on your shop at the moment? See answer above, but boy would I love to have help! Part of the issue is that I am the best person to describe my work, take the photos, etc. and if I hired someone, it would be money out of my pocket that I don’t have. Also, I can only post what I produce, so as soon as I make it, I list it! My husband lost his job in December; he is now my runner to the post office. I would love for him to help me cut fabric, etc. in my studio, but I am taking things one step at a time with integrating him into helping me…..we are still working on wrapping items for shipping! Bless him, he supports everything I do and the emotional support, at times, is what I really need from him.

 How do you promote your business? Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or other? I do have a FB page for my business, I “like” items to post to FB, and I upload new listings periodically to FB. Again, in looking at my shop stats, I get maybe one view every two to three weeks via FB; it just doesn’t seem to be a place I should spend my time. I’m not familiar at all with Twitter, but I am not an instantaneous person. I can wait to check my email when it is convenient, return phone calls within 24 hours, and can focus on other activities without feeling torn by technology.

Being part of a team, I participate in team treasury blitzes, favorite other member’s items (and they favorite mine), and we share tips on a range of topics from recipes to Etsy marketing. This has been a valuable tool for building my shop.

Describe the process of creating one of your handmade items.   
My quilts are like pieces of art using fabric instead of a paintbrush. Drawing from thousands of fabrics cut into two inch squares, each quilt is hand designed on a white mat. I use four squares to represent a flower, or several squares in a row to impersonate a flower bed. Some of my quilts are laid out to create a color flow from pink to purple to blue to yellow to orange that is more abstract than an imitation of an image. Most of my quilts are reminiscent of Monet paintings, represented as an impressionistic garden or blend of colors.
Fun Facts
List 3 adjectives that describe you. Musical, humorous, hardworking.

What is your favorite food? Bread pudding for dessert, bacon for breakfast, and a filet Mignon steak for dinner!

 If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?  I would say a dolphin. They sing, and I am a singer – I wanted to major in music in college but instead chose a degree in Business Administration. I am in three music groups in our local community. Dolphins are sleek and beautiful, they are intelligent, they seek attention, and give so much of themselves in return. I am a leader, not bad looking for 51, and strive to give as much as I can to my family and community of 26 years. I am a Christian, a mother, a wife, and do as much as I can to give back to others which I have been blessed to receive.

Wow!  What a great interview!  Thanks so much for participating!  I really enjoyed your thorough answers.   I wish you a lot of success in the future.

Check out her delightful shop: Tahoe Quilts.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Knitting Needle Cases -- Sale 25% off

In my Etsy shop, Sew in the Snow, this month I'm having a 25% off sale on knitting needle cases.  I had a marvelous time sewing these all this fall for a bazaar here in town.  I loved working with the simple two-color scheme and the quick finish of it all (when compared to a quilt).   These clutches are lovely and practical, my favorite combination.

 How did I come about making this pattern?  Good question.  I am new to knitting, so I really needed something to store my needles in.  One night I was at my weekly knitting meeting (Chicks with Sticks--CWS-- is the club name) when I woman pulled out this amazing looking needle organizer.  I was instantly lured in by all the pockets! She had pockets for darning needles, stitch markers, scissors, several sizes of needles.  Wow.  I kept asking her about it, and eventually she gave me the pattern!  I was ecstatic.    So, I made one for myself, and one for my good friend Stephanie who attended CWS with me.

It was close to Christmas, so I planned on surprising her with a case for Christmas.  The bazaar was on Dec 5th, and Stephanie came for moral support.  Then, she saw the cases and bought one!  Yikes!  Now I had no Christmas present for her.  What an irony... she bought something that I had made for her as a gift.  Life is funny.

Several more knitting needle cases sold that day at the bazaar and one sold last week in my shop!  Hurray! So, I wanted to share some of the cases that have been most Favorited on my Etsy shop with you.  They are on sale until the end of February, simply enter the code Knitting for your discount.

This blue batik knitting needle case has been the most popular.  On the inside, it has an orange geometric pattern and 15 pockets.  I love the fresh color combination and I think it really makes the statement, "I am classy and not afraid to try new things". It is a great accessory to bring to knitting club!

*open = 10.5" x 13.5"
*rolled up = 3.5" x 9.5"
*Needles up to 9"

15 Pockets
3 rows of pockets range from 1.25 inches to 3.5 inches wide for a total of 15 pockets
1) 4" deep holds needles 7-9"
2) 6"deep holds needles 8-9", and the final row is
3) 8" deep and holds 9"

***Note: this is not the usual 18 pocket organizer! It has 3 less pockets to allow for a more roomy end pocket to include circular needles, rulers, or other bulky items. A good friend of mine asked me to make her one like this so that she could fit in some larger items, like a needle gauge. She loved it! So, I made a few to sell.

It is fully lined and reinforced with interfacing to give it stability without bulk. There is a 3" upper flap that folds down to make sure your needles don't fall out. There is a triple reinforced ribbon to securely close the clutch that makes it both practical and beautiful. Needles are not included!

Do you knit?   If so, do you have more double pointed needles, straights, or circular needles?  What do you store your needles in?  Someone told me that most knitters have mostly circular needles now and not many straights.  Is this true?  I only have a few circulars but lots of straight needles.  I'd really love to hear from you!  Help me solve this dilemma. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Free Valentine's Day Art Quilt: Winner Announced

The Valentine's Giveaway was won by Cindy B.   Hurray!  I sure love to win things.  Although it's seldom I do win a contest, I do have one keen memory of winning.  I was at our local sports store, Beaver Sports, when I saw they had a contest to win new cross-country skis.  So, I entered but joked with my friend that I "never win anything".  We both laughed and she refused to enter, saying it was pointless.  About a month later, I had a message on my phone that said I won!   I couldn't believe it.  I was ecstatic.  Ever since then, I've been sure that I'm going to win most everything I enter.  Keep hope alive at all costs!

So, how was it decided?

Since there was two entries, I decided to flip a coin to see who won.  Entry #1 was heads, #2 was tails.  When I flipped it, tails came up.  My girls asked what I was doing, and I said that I was giving a quilt away.  They both looked at me like I was crazy, since I was sitting on the couch playing with coins, without a quilt in my lap.  They sure are fun.  I hope you enjoy your wall hanging quilt.

Happy Valentine's Day