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!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Preparing for Kindergarten

I can hardly believe it...but 5 years have flown by and my little girl is going to school in the fall.  I think she'll love it!  She needs the stimulation from socializing and learning new things.  She's like a sponge, soaking up any information I give her.

A little scary  really.  Some things are not meant to be remembered... such as private rants between me and my husband in which I passionately exclaim that a friend is nuts for giving her toddlers Coke.  Days later, when I have completely forgotten my ill-advised comment, my daughter will say something like, "Your friend (insert name here) is nuts. That's why she gives him Coke."  Always in front of the friend!  Yikes!  It's a little hard to explain that one.  He he...

Oh, yeah, back on topic: school.  So, I think she needs important things to learn to occupy some of her precious memory banks.  :)  Something that will be helpful like learning to read, to add, or how to flirt with boys.  No, wait... she already knows how to flirt!  Ack!  When did she learn that?

Today at the Farmer's Market she met a cute little boy and ran around chasing him.  Then she coyly stopped chasing him, tossed her golden curls at him and smiled sweetly.  Next she made a very life-like dinosaur hissing sound and acted fierce.  He loved it!!!  The chase was on, he was after her like a shot.  Mission Accomplished.  Girl chases Boy.  Boy chases Girl.  Ah... the cycle of life continues.

In the afternoon, we went in to get her 4 shots to prepare her for Kindergarten.  It was better than expected.  She sat quietly through the shots.  I thought we'd made it.  But after the shots were done she buried her head in my neck and cried silent tears of pain.  It was so sad.  It reminded me of her first set of shots when she was soooo tiny.  And now she big enough to go to school.

I know that she is ready for school.  But, I ask myself, am I?  I'll certainly miss her and it will be hard to let her go this fall.  So, I'm trying to constantly remind myself that this is for her own good.  Life is a series of letting go... my time to let her go is about to begin.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WIP: Embroidered Tote

Embroidered Turtle, sewn on rick rack and 3-D flowers

Back of tote-- shows pocket

I am working on a Made to Order girl's tote.  I just bought the tote to embroider and sew on the rick-rack and things.  It is a very cute turtle embroidery pattern.  I love the giant-eyes that make it seem a little surprised and innocent.  I'm hoping to change the handles to rick-rack if the customer agrees.  But, here's a picture of the tote finished.  I still haven't begun this new one yet... but it'll be done by the end of the day.  
Completed turtle tote

My sewing machine set up to embroider

Friday, May 25, 2012

FAF: Mary of By a Thread

Recently I was chatting with quilters/sewers from my Quiltsy Team and Mary volunteered to be interviewed.  So, I went to browse through Mary's shop, By a Thread and I was really impressed. Her products are made of top-quality fabric with an excellent eye for details.  Her products are practical creations to improve the everyday life.  By a Thread is full of gorgeous batik covers and other useful items.  What a huge inspiration to me! I love her beautiful creations.
What originally gave you the idea to create such an interesting Etsy shop?
I learned to quilt from a friend when I moved to Vermont, about 8 years ago.  I like making beautiful things that are also useful.  That’s why I started applying quilting to everyday items.  I started making purses and selling them to co-workers and at the occasional craft fair.  I found Etsy when I was looking for a way to sell excess inventory.  Etsy made it easy to set up an online shop.

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 found that the forums, blogs and seller’s guide on Etsy, were invaluable to me starting out.  I had a lot of questions, but could get most of them answered by searching the forums.  I also had a lot of friends who cheered me on.  My first customers on Etsy were friends who supported my business.

Could you share some tips on how someone would go about growing an Etsy shop or online presence? 
Creating and posting new items regularly seems to be the most important thing.  You read that advice over and over in Etsy publications because it’s true.  I’ve found it helpful to give myself quotas and goals so I keep track of how I’m doing with this.  This past fall, I noticed that for every 5 items I posted, I sold at least one item. (Not necessarily the new items.)  In December it was closer to selling one for each item I listed.  I love December!

What is your main hurdle in running your Etsy site to date?
Confusion.  There are so many products I could make and so many ways I can market my business, that it can be overwhelming.  I got a lot of help with this by taking the Business Turnaround class at www.ittybiz.com.

Tell us about the most interesting item you’ve ever made.
I worked with a friend to make memory quilts for his two grandchildren.  He selected photos that we printed on fabric, and I made quilts with them.  They are family heirlooms that those children will probably have for the rest of their lives.

How do you promote your business?  Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or other?
I use facebook, twitter and pinterest.  I have an email list and send out weekly mailings.  I don’t have a blog, but I write posts for other blogs.  I’m a member of several teams on Etsy.

Describe the process of creating one of your handmade items. 
When I buy fabric, I always launder it first, so it won’t shrink in future washings.  I have standard measurements for items I make, so I use them to cut out the fabric and batting.  I use cord in a lot of my products.  I sew that into loops for buttons, by hand.  If I use cord for purses, I hand sew the ends so it doesn’t unravel.  I generally sew things in such a way that the seams are turned inward. (rather than using binding to finish edges)  I free-motion quilt all my products, then sew up final seams and hand sew buttons. When I appliqué, I use iron on appliqué, then quilt over it.

What do you love most about making your products? 
There are 2 things that I most love about doing this.  I adore all the gorgeous fabrics that are available these days, especially batiks.  It’s a treat to be able to buy so many of them and make useful, beautiful products.  I also love the feedback I get from customers.  I love hearing that a product I sold, brought happiness or was the perfect gift for someone they love.

Fun Facts:
List 3 adjectives that describe you.
Creative, persistent, curious

What is your favorite food?
Do I have to choose between cheese and chocolate?

If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?
I suppose I have the personality of a small bird.  I flit from one thing to another and back again.  I’m always busy.  I love trees and I love to sing.

In conclusion, I recommend that you treat yourself to a leisurely stroll through her shop.  You may find a treasure you never knew you needed!  Just click on this link and you'll be there:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WIP: Knitting a Sweater

Sweater pattern by Zoe Mellor

 I have never knit a whole sweater before. I have a great book titled, Adorable Knits for Tots by Zoe Mellor.  I love nearly all of the patterns.  I have looked at this cute zip-up jacket (p. 100-103) for awhile.  I learned how to put in zippers this winter, so now it's possible.  I think it's time for me to make something larger than a hat. 

I decided to try one for my 3 year old daughter.  I figure it's best to start small then move up to one for me. It's a cute raspberry color done in the moss/seed stitch. (See picture above for completed pattern.) I haven't made it very far yet, but here's the beginning.   I think it'll take awhile.... So hang in there and look for updates!

I haven't done any sewing all week (gasp) because I've had a bad cold, or more properly termed influenza. It's dreadful. So, I have occasionally had the energy to knit for a little bit, but mostly I've been collapsing. I had found myself wishing for a "normal" job so I could take a day off-- something full time caretakers (or stay at home) or Moms don't get. When I'm sick I long for the days I could call in sick and then sleep and read a book in complete silence while I was recovering. Ah... The good old days. LOL.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mothers and Daughters

Jessica and I petting Rebel

Mothers and Daughters have a special bond.  As a Mother I have the chance to share my passion and my love of life with my daughters.  I have taught my daughters how to gently pet a cat and demonstrated my love of animals with them since they were tiny.  Jessica is cat crazy and Claire loves horses.  They have inherited my love of animals.  I am so glad that I've had the opportunity to share this gift -- that will keep giving their entire lives -- of animal affection.  It is one of the best things that we now have in common.

Another thing that I have emphasized is my love of the outdoors.  We go outside every day regardless of the weather.  I realized that I had succeeded beyond my expectations last summer when it started to rain buckets.  Jessica jumped up and shouted, "Let's get our rain coats and go play in the puddles!"  I was thinking, "Ah, now I have an excuse to read a book."  LOL.  Kids!  Of course, I couldn't disappoint them, so we got on rain coats, rain pants and boots and out we went.  It was fun!  There is so much laughter with young children.  It is the freedom of spirit that impresses me most!

 My Mother has never lost her love of adventure or her free spirit.  In her middle age she is still exuberantly learning new ways to enjoy the outdoors.  I have enjoyed recreational kayaking for several years.  My Mom asked me to teach her how to kayak and without much trepidation, I began to tell her how.   In this picture I am explaining that her paddle was upside down (top picture) and that's why it was hard to move.  She just laughed, righted the paddle and went right back out. 

 She had so much fun!  I am blessed to have an adventurous Mother that taught me Age is more of a mental handicap than a physical one.  She is a great Mom.

In honor of Mothers and Daughters, I'm having a sale on my Etsy site for one week.  It is a buy one get one half-off sale.  This means you can get something for yourself and your Mother or your daughter to celebrate life!  Use coupon code Mother on each item to get your sale.  The sale includes everything except quilts in my store.  So, that means you could get your Mother a knitting needle clutch, an embroidered apron or towel,  or a schlep bag.  You can get your young daughter a crayon roll, a tote, or baby knits (hat, mittens, or booties).   Just click on the links here to see the full variety in my shop.   Here's some examples of these sale items!

I hope you have the chance to reflect on your status as a Mother, Daughter, or both today.  It is a privileged to share my thoughts with you.  Thanks for reading!  If you'd like to share some thoughts, I always enjoy reading them!

Friday, May 18, 2012

FAF: Jerimi from Three Cat Limit

 Jerimi, creator of the Three Cat Limit shop on Etsy is full of fun ideas for your cherished furry friends.  She has worked in a veterinarian's office and she strives for safety and high quality in her products.  Being an animal lover, she regularly donates to animal charities.   She has improved her designs over the years, taking suggestions from customers to create even more fantastic products!

I was delighted when I browsed through her shop.  I love cats, and I always have, so spoiling them comes naturally to me.  As I leisurely "strolled" through her shop, I found several items that my cat may need.  My cat's name is Midnight, and he loves catnip toys. I can just picture him frolicking with one of Jerimi's refillable catnip toys filled with Organic Catnip!  Wow!  What a glorious treasure for cats!
Refillable catnip toys

So, what makes such a creative person tick?  Let's find out together.  She generously agreed to do an interview for me.  Without further ado, let's see what she had to say....

What originally gave you the idea to create such an interesting Etsy shop?
Well, I hope it's interesting.  In 2007, my husband and I had a brick-and-mortar shop where, among other things, I sold handmade items.  One of our customers recommended that I try Etsy.  I'm glad I did!

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 actually went to craft shows before opening an Etsy shop.  I think that's influenced me quite a bit.  We tended to be vendors at cat shows, for instance, and people constantly gave me ideas on what to make and how to improve my designs.  Many of the things in my shop were originally custom orders that people requested.

Could you share some tips on how someone would go about growing an Etsy shop or online presence?
I added the URL of both my website and my Etsy shop to my email signature.  It's been helpful because sometimes I'm a little shy of telling friends and family what I'm working on.  I don't want them to feel pressured to buy from me, but I do want them to know what I do. 

I've also found that consistency really matters.  Blogging on a regular schedule has turned out to be almost more important than what I actually say.  Isn't that funny? 

What is your main hurdle in running your Etsy site to date?
Definitely the product photos.  No question.  I have no problem making lots of cute things for my shop, or writing the descriptions.  I dread the photos.  Five beautifully shot, perfectly edited photos for each listing means that if I want to list an item a day for a week, I need 35 photos.  I usually take 2-3 times that, and pare it down.  Say that takes me an hour to set up and shoot.  Then the editing takes several more hours.  It frequently takes me more time to photograph an item than it did for me to make it.  It's a lot of work, and I procrastinate it given half a chance. 

Committing to participating in a weekly linky party, where I have to have photos of my work, has gone a long way my procrastinating.

LION kicksticks

Tell us about the most interesting item you’ve ever made. 
I got a custom order for some ENORMOUS catnip kicksticks.  I listed them as "Lion Kicksticks."  They were 30" long, 15" around, and I kid you not, I used a half-gallon of catnip in each of them.  Shipping them was an exercise in ingenuity.  I wound up getting out the packing tape and a box knife, and cut up some boxes to make one that would work.

What is the structure behind the scenes—how many people do you have working on your shop at the moment?
Right now, there's just me directly working on my shop.  I have a dear friend I get together with once or twice a week.  The two of us brainstorm together, and each work on our individual items, but help each other out.  For instance, one of us might suggest a quicker or less expensive way to do a thing.  Sometimes one of us will struggle to solve an issue and the other will help figure it out.  Having that support has been helpful, and kept me going.  She also makes me braver.  I've been avoiding putting binding on my quilts, because I thought it would be much too difficult.  She convinced me to try it anyway.  What do you know?  She was right.

How do you promote your business?  Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or other?
I promote through blogging, word of mouth, always having business cards on hand to give out, and when I have a craft show, I email the details to everyone I know.

Describe the process of creating one of your handmade items.
I do a lot of improv piecing.  I save fabric so long as it's at least 1" x 1", and anything that's smaller than 3" goes into my scrap basket.  When my basket starts to overflow, I start piecing.  Generally, I make it into a wonky log cabin.  I make it as large as a fat quarter.  Then I use that fat quarter like any other fat quarter.  I really enjoy the surprise of it.  I never know how it's going to come together.

Improv fat quarter
What do you love most about making your products?  
Honestly, I love the planning and anticipation stage very much.  It's second only to the finished, "can't take my eyes off it, did I really make that?" phase.

Fun Facts:
List 3 adjectives that describe you.
Freckly, introspective, game.

What is your favorite food?

If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?
I'm going to go with a flamingo.  I gravitate to unlikely colors that come together in unexpected ways.  Sometimes I sit very still and chase after minnows of thought while I figure something out.  Then I'll strike like a fiend and get things done.

Also, I can frequently be found in gardens.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

WIP: Rainbow Quilt

 This week I've been working on a custom order for a rainbow baby quilt.  I made the original quilt (seen above) for a friend that was adopting a 6 month old baby girl.  It has a Noah's Ark theme print in the center for the blocks.  This pattern is one of my very favorite patterns for kid's quilts.  It is so cheerful and festive I can hardly resist it.  I've made 3 of them so far.... this new one will be my fourth.

New Rainbow Quilt

 The customer really wanted it to look the same but to be a little bit smaller for a new baby. I reduced it from 12 blocks to 6 blocks.  With the border it will be smaller, nearly 1/3 smaller, than the original. So I've scrambled to find mostly matching fabrics with some from my scraps and some new fabrics. It's been really fun to try and recreate the same thing.  I love making this quilt!

So far, I've finished the blocks and gotten the first border on.  I thought I'd made enough rails to do the middle border, but I still need about half of them.  My math was off when I shrank the quilt.  (As Always.... Sigh)  So, It won't be finished tonight.  Perhaps tomorrow?  I plan on buying a Noah's Ark panel to use for the backing.  I think it'll be really cute as a double-sided quilt!  

Besides this quilt, I've completed a custom Dinosaur quilt for a favored customer from Etsy, and I've embroidered a new Princess tote for my Etsy Shop. But, other than that, I haven't gotten much done.

Dino Quilt--some going into the border!

 Princess in training tote

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mothers Day

Happy mothers day... One day late. I had a lovely day. I got some yard work done and had a delightful brunch at home with my Mom and my family. It was very relaxing.

I have been thinking of putting in a new plant bed by our deck in the backyard for a couple of years now. Finally, I got it started! I dug up the grass, then added in fresh organic soil. We bought a new rototiller that I got to try out in the new bed. It worked like a champ! It was so much easier than doing it all by hand with a shovel. ;)  I did all of this in one afternoon!  Hurrah!

I have lots of bulbs to plant still, including: Lily of the Valley, Oriental Lilies, Calla Lillie's, Gladiolus, and a few more. I planted a lavender lilac, and I have two fragrant tea roses to plant also. I think it's going to be lovely and very fragrant. My girls have had a lot of fun watering the plants each day. They are less enthusiastic about watering the dirt... But I explained that there's flowers in there too.  Of course, Claire loves to pour water on anything, so she is a big help.  Fortunately, our soil drains well.

I am ecstatic it's spring in full swing.  I sure love spring. The most hopeful of seasons. It is ripe with possibilities. My mind pleasantly flies around imagining all the beautiful flowers and fun times spent outdoors with family and friends. I think I may be part Druid. (I did play one once in an MMO.)  I could simply live outdoors forever.

I hope you have a happy spring and a fulfilling Mothers Day. I'd love to hear about what you did to celebrate.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

1st Friday quilt Show set up

Tonight I set up my first quilt show. It is in a coffee shop downtown, called River City Cafe. It's very cute with an open floor plan. It will be the first quilt exhibit in the monthly 1st Friday art exhibits. Very exciting! I'm nuts.

I have so much to do!!! And, I'm not sure how to do it... I will be hanging 8 wall hanging quilts ranging from about 1 foot square to 2".i will also be Hanging 6 lap quilts to twin size quilts. I have made signs for all of them which also have to be hung up. Whew.

I still need to buy some dowels for the coffee wall hangings(5) that I made this week in a wild frenzy. Pictures will follow later this week.

I gotta get running. Have a great day! And wish me luck.