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!

Friday, March 30, 2012

FAF: Alaskan Colleen

Today is my birthday. Which means today I focus on myself!  All of the pictures for this blog post are from my personal collection or things I shared with my family.  Since I hadn't intended to show them publicly, they are not of the best picture quality.  But, it shows the range of quilts I've made and that I really like!

I decided to answer the interview questions that I've given to other Etsy artists. I realize that I haven't filled out my own interview. Is that fair, to expect others to do something that I haven't done? No, not really. So, here goes nothing.
my first applique project

What originally gave you the idea to create such an interesting Etsy shop?
I was talking with some girlfriends during a knitting meeting about bazaars.  One lady suggested Etsy as an online way to sell crafts and to reach more people.  After looking into it, I found that it was a good fit for me.

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.
Hmmmm…I’m not sure I actually have a niche yet.  However, I began by taking bunches of pictures and reading the “seller’s handbook” for advice on Etsy.  It turns out that I haven’t kept many of my original pictures because they weren’t very good.  I am blessed to have a girlfriend that likes to take pictures and she’s helped out with some of them!

Could you share some tips on how someone would go about growing an Etsy shop or online presence?
From what I’ve read, you need to really “get in the face” of your potential buyers. This isn’t my style, so it’s been difficult for me to do that. I’ve read a book on Etsy success, and it suggests Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. I am attempting to do that now.  I post all new items to both Facebook and Twitter.

I love pinwheels and blue and yellow together

What is your main hurdle in running your Etsy site to date?
Marketing.  I am a creative soul.  I love to make things.  My self-time is limited because I’m a Mom of toddlers, so my free time is precious. Thus, I would much rather spend my few hours a day sewing and creating than devoted to marketing.

Tell us about the most interesting item you’ve ever made. 
To date the most interesting quilt I’ve made has been a Lone Star quilt.  It was strip quilted, but I had to pin each point because they don’t line up.  I usually don’t pin, instead I use the seam-lock method to get things to stay put.  Anyway, I had to mark with a 1/4 inch dot then pin exactly on it.  It is also sew on the bias so it tended to stretch some.  So, this quilt was a real challenge.  I spent a long time on it!  But, I love it so much it was definitely worth it! 
100% silk fabric

What is the structure behind the scenes—how many people do you have working on your shop at the moment?
Just me.  My girls are always around and so is my cat and dog.  But, I do all the work.

For My Dad who sails

How do you promote your business?  Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or other?
I use all of these, but not very faithfully.  I like to use the search ads on Etsy and to renew things people are looking at.  For example if my shop stats indicate a lot of views on quilts, I’ll renew quilts.  If there are views on crayon rolls, I’ll renew some of those.  Renewing things has helped increase my views, but it’s tricky because I have such a diverse inventory.

Describe the process of creating one of your handmade items.
It all begins with a pattern choice and a main color.  I tend to think of someone specific to guide my color and pattern choice.  Then I think about the “feeling” the combinations will invoke: fun, elegant, bright and happy, masculine power, etc.  This guides my color choices.  I love how a pattern can feel so different by using different colors! 
For the Amanda Quilts project

What do you love most about making your products? 
My favorite thing is choosing color combinations and the process of beginning a new project.  I love shopping for fabric! 

Fun Facts:
List 3 adjectives that describe you.
Quirky, passionate, joyful

What is your favorite food?
Dessert!  A warm boysenberry pie with vanilla ice cream, hot cinnamon rolls, cookies

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
I see my self as a wolf.  I am fiercely protective of my family -- like a pack. I have a strong personality, like an alpha female; I usually end up in leadership positions. I love the wilderness and the backcountry like a wolf running free over the mountains.  I mate for life; I have been married almost 20 years to my high school sweetheart.  I am blunt, without the sneakiness of a fox, what you see is what you get.  I need a close pack of friends and family to make me feel fulfilled in life.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WIP: Crayon Roll Bonanza

It's been a productive week for me.   I've completed the crayon rolls I was working on last week.  I ended up finishing 27 crayon rolls.  There is a wide range of fabrics used to make them.  They include themed fabric such as:  ice cream cones, instruments, Berstein Bears, Teal balis, horse batik, hearts, surfing crocodiles, sea turtles, butterflies, monkeys, berries, spring umbrellas, polka dots on a black background, Teal dragonflies, and Thomas Train. 

I tried something new during this crayon roll bonanza.  I tried adding an elastic "tie" that can hold the crayons.  It works so well!  I wish now that I had added it to all of them.  Ahhh... hindsight.  I gave my youngest daughter an instrument crayon roll with an elastic tie.  She loves it.  Of course, she should because picked out the fabric.  :0 

 Each crayon roll has eight 1.5" pockets.   They can hold 3 crayons each, or one giant crayon or fat markers.  My daughters like the markers best and so these wide pockets work well for them.

These crayon rolls are available locally--in Fairbanks-- at the Blueberry Baby. They are also carrying several of my schlep bags.  I love that store!  The crayon rolls are also available in my Etsy shop.

Next  I've got to work on some spring wall hangings for an upcoming spring event I have in May, called "First Friday" where an artist is featured at a local establishment.   I will be at the River City Cafe & Espresso downtown.

Yesterday I embroidered the center for 2 new Cherry Blossom wall hanging quilts I want to finish for the May First Friday event. 

I will make one look similar to this custom quilt. 
Although I don't think that I should ever make exactly the same thing as something I did custom.  Obviously, the new ones won't be personalized nor will they have the butterfly.

I still like the brown and pink combo.  So, we'll see what I can do with that.  I think the second one will be a brown and blue combination.  I still haven't decided on the pattern yet.  Tomorrow will be soon enough.  :)

I guess I always have a few things going on at once.  Are you that way?  I used to only ever have one thing started.  But, now I hop around doing different things.  I love creating through sewing!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Full-Time Mom & the Futility of Housework

I have to admit, I never thought I'd be a "stay at home Mom" or as I call it, a Full-time Mom.  Yet, this is my fourth year home with my girls.  I am busier than I've ever been, yet I seldom have much to show for it.  Often, my work goes unnoticed and under-appreciated.  Yet, it is still vital the functioning of our home.  So then, am I inspired to do my chores?  No!

I have a friend that has 3 boys.  She also stays home.  Her house is so clean, it's like a museum.  She is also skilled in home decorating.  She watches shows like Martha Stewart, and then actually does the things suggested!  (Ha, how amazing is that?!)  Her husband expects dinner on the table when he gets home, and she actually does it.  Do I?  Not usually... although, I am generally thinking about dinner when he gets home. LOL.  

So, I salute this amazing Super-Mom.  I held her up as the gold-standard of Stay-at-Home-Moms, thinking that I would be the same way.  How hard could it be?

However, that is not me.  Before I had kids, my house was always tidy.  I'd spend 2 hours once a week with my husband and we'd clean it together. Then it'd stay clean ALL WEEK.  I had some crazy delusion that this would also happen post-baby.  Not the case.  Now, I spend 2 hours simply picking up stuff, and I haven't even begun the cleaning.  It stays clean about 4 hours or so.  Then it's messy again.

So, I have decided this week that cleaning is futile.  The laws of physics are in full-force in a home with toddlers.  Entropy is always increasing.  (Entropy is a sort of chaos.)  So, do I battle this universal law of physics?  Well, not today!  Ha, ha!

Today I surrender to entropy.  Instead of housework, I am focusing on something I can control.  Embroidery!  I have embroidered 4 towels, 1 apron, and two centerpieces for art quilts.  Yahooo!  I feel so productive! {Until I walk out of my sewing room that is ;)}  Yet, in here I am queen, it is neat and orderly and I can see what I have done.  It will last forever.  Ahhhh... What a glorious feeling!  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fresh Bread

The most wonderful smell in all the world is fresh baked bread. Sure, cookies smell good too, and so does a roasting turkey. But, fresh bread carries with it a sense of home, belonging, comfort, and family that no other smell can do.

This morning I woke up and decided to bake some bread. I have a bread machine, so it's no big deal to throw in a loaf. My daughters love to bake. Claire helped me this morning. Her favorite thing is to stick her hand in the canister of flour and then run her fingers through it. But, she's also getting pretty good at adding ingredients to the bowl. So, although it takes at least twice as long to bake with her, I usually invite her.

Today I baked a new bread. I have a wonderful bread cookbook,so I'm always trying new recipes. Today we made cereal bread. It is made by adding 2 cups of your favorite cereal in with the flour. I used a great grains granola and pecans cereal. It made the yummiest bread! It is sweet yet tasted of whole-grain nutty goodness.

Ah.... Bread! I love it!

Here's the recipe for 2lb loaf:

Granola Bread from the Bread Machine Cookbook II

Water 1 & 1/3 C
Oil 3 T
Honey 3T
Salt 3/4 t
*grated orange peel 1 t
granola cereal 2 C
bread flour 2.5 C
wheat flour 1 C
yeast 2 t
*raisins 1/2 C
* sunflower seeds 1/2 C

I didn't add any of the optional things, but I'm sure they could be good.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

FAF: Quilt Art by Rhonda

Quilt Art by Rhonda features some really unique and inventive art quilts.  I was looking for something different for today's featured artist.  I wanted to do a review of an Etsy shop to change things up instead of an interview.  So, this morning I looked up teal quilts on Esty.  As I scrolled through the quilts, I saw many fresh spring teal quilts.

And then I saw a lovely and very inventive art quilt titled, Art Quilt Spring Teal by Rhonda.  It really captured my attention!  It is a combination of the rail blocks and an around-the-world block.  I love them both individually but combined these blocks really sing!  As I've seen in a few things recently, she made this quilt off-center.  It gives it a very modern feeling.  The various shades of teal and blues work well together.  It reminds me of a river flowing placidly along with an eddy swirling on the edge.   It is a beautiful and gloriously inventive quilt.

When I visited Rhonda's shop the Wild Mountain Rose quilt caught my eye as well.  It is also off-center in a pleasing manner.  The center features a bold yellow star, much like the center of a lovely wild rose.  The dark rose and raspberry colored triangles surrounding the star that mimic rose petals in the sunlight.  I really like how it slowly fades from a pale pinkish-tan on the top to a dusky grey on the bottom.  It reminds me of the sunlight slowly fading on a warm summer evening. What a lovely piece of art work! 

I really appreciate the fine details that go into her work.  All of her colors match perfectly!  Her use of lights and darks truly enhance her artwork by showing her artist's ability to create shadow and depth through her use of colors.  I also enjoy the range of colors she uses while she thinks "outside the box" of conventional quilting.

I find her quilts to be inspired by nature, which I love, and to have an alluring quality.  Her work is superb and demonstrates her creative nature.  I'm sure that these art quilts would enhance the decor of any home!  Take a few moments to browse through her shop, Quilt Art by Rhonda.  You won't regret the time you spend there...  I sure enjoyed myself.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WIP: Earth Tone Brown Quilt

It's WIP Work in Progress Wednesday.  Already!  Where does the time go?  Well, I haven't done much sewing/quilting this last week.  Not sure what I've been doing, but I've been busy!  Aren't we all?  Of course, I'd be perfectly happy quilting for 3-5 hours every day.  I love it so much!  But, I digress....

What am I working on or finished this week?  I've quilted a baby quilt, started a new Jelly-roll quick quilt, cut out and started 20 crayon rolls, and designed and sewed on giant crayon roll.

I did some machine quilting and finally finished my frog quilt. I quilted around the frog, and made little webbed feet with the quilting.  I free-hand quilted some dragonflies/butterflies in each corner.  I quilted around the inside and outside of each of the 15 water drop-splashes.  It turned out pretty well, but I wish the splash appliques showed up better.  Next time I'll get it right. 

 I used matching green minky for the back.  I love the feel of it!  So incredibly soft and snugly.   And, I've found that it holds up well wash after wash without "piling" like polar fleece.

 I also used a thin 80/20 (cotton/polyester) batting.  It is my latest favorite.  I like to have a little polyester to give it a little depth or bounce so that the quilting shows up more than it does on simple cotton batting.

 I love this pattern.  It wasn't very challenging, which is great for a quick gift.  Although, I'm still new to applique, so that took me some time.  I used the fusible webbing to iron each water drop.  Then I stitched around them in the feather stitch.  I think it looks nice, not great, but good.

 I struggled with choosing a color for the applique.  I really wanted to do a dark green to enhance the splashes, but I think it didn't look good in the feather stitch.  If I had done the satin stitch, I would have gone with the darker thread.  I'm not sure if a lighter thread would have helped.  Any suggestions? 

As a glorious reward for finishing my quilting project, I started a new jelly-roll quilt.  It has been great fun to make.  I have half the blocks done and most of the strips together. It is such a great pattern!

I got a special order from Etsy for a 120 crayon roll in teals and blues. It has fun dragonflies and little star-bursts of white.  I love this fabric!!!  I made it two days ago.  It turned out really cute!  I like it a lot.  I made it like the regular crayon rolls except I stacked the layers 5 rows high to accommodate all of the crayons.  This made it rather tall, so I added an extra ribbon to help keep it closed.

Other than that, I've started on 20 crayon rolls for a local Mom and Kid shop.  It's a terrific little store called Blueberry Baby.  I'm really excited to have some of my creations there!  It's rather fun to make so many!  I haven't finished any yet.  I went through my kid's fabric stash and choose matching fabrics.   But, I got them all cut out yesterday.  I have gotten about half of them half-way done.  Sorry, too messy to take pictures this week.  Maybe next week I'll have pictures.

I need to finish them this week.  I have a large variety of fabrics for these crayon rolls from monkeys to blueberries to musical instruments and butterflies.  I was wondering if anyone would like a solid color crayon roll?  My kids seem to like really busy fabrics (often too much for my taste) and they don't really get excited about solids.  My other thought was that perhaps the Mothers or Fathers are the ones picking out the crayon rolls, so I should try to please them instead of the kids.  What do you think?  I'd really really like your advise! 

That's all for now.  Take care one and all. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Celebrate March Birthday Giveaway

My Birthday is in March!  

My Birthday is March 30

I love birthdays.  Growing up in a family of 6 people, with four kids, we shared everything with each other.  But, on your birthday, it was all about YOU.  No need to share anything on your birthday.  We got to choose what we wanted to eat for breakfast (pancakes with strawberries) and then for dinner too (spaghetti and meatballs with french bread).  My Mom always baked a wonderful homemade cake to eat after the presents were open.  This was a special day.  A great day.

As I've gotten older I still like my birthday.  As 40 approaches  (not here yet!) I still like my birthday.  My husband and I celebrate it with each-other, and occasionally friends.  We have added on to my original family tradition to include an entire week of special dinners topped with the birthday cake on your birthday.  My husband can make a mean cake!  He has even made a 7-layer angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream.  A Very grand cake it was.

So, as I've gotten older, my birthday has continued to be a celebration of life lived and adventures yet to come.  It is still very fun to celebrate my birthday!  The presents are not the focus, but rather time spent with family around a table with glorious food.  (Yes, I'm a Foodie.)

I want to celebrate with all the other March Birthday "babies".  So, to celebrate March Birthdays-- I want to do a Birthday Giveaway from my Etsy Store on my Birthday March 30.  Anyone with a March Birthday may enter to win.  The prize may be chosen from my Etsy shop, Sew in the Snow

So, time to lay some ground rules.  How do you enter?   I'll need you to visit my shop.  You get to choose anything worth up to $30.   (If you like something worth more, I can arrange to have $30 taken off of it.)  Only one thing may be chosen; you may not choose more than one thing that adds up to $30.   I want you to heart or favorite the chosen item.  Then leave a message or "convo" me with your birthday--no year needed-- to enter this contest or to comment here with the favorite item and your birth day.

Example Etsy convo or blog comment: I like the rooster apron.  My birthday is: March 10th.  

So, here's a quick peek at what is available for $30: hand towels, aprons, kid's totes, knitted baby hats and booties,  knitting needle cases, crayon rolls, quilted wall hangings, and embroidery blocks for sewing into your project.

An apron for the quilter or sewer
Rooster apron

Grandma's apron
Spicy kitchen towels

Friendship embroidered block

Earth-tone wall hanging or table topper quilt
3-6 month old Hat

Newborn baby hat and booties

Knitting needle cases

Knitting needle cases

Knitting needle cases

Ariel Tote

Girl crayon rolls

Boy or "neutral" crayon rolls

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Giveaway: Fur Cuff Winner

I used a random number generator to see who would win the fur cuffs.  (See below for the site.)

3 = Random numbers generated Mar 18 2012 at 0:9:18 by www.psychicscience.org 
Free educational resources for parapsychology, psychical research & mind magic.

The person that entered the 3rd comment won!  That's Homemade Wisconsin for the win!  Congrats Wisconsin. I hope you all play again soon.

 It was a generous donation! If you didn't win, but need a fur cuff, visit Dawn's Etsy site and fulfill your desires.  She has a great store.  Thanks Lone Alaskan Gypsy for this lush prize.