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, June 29, 2012

FAF: Mary from Frayed Fuzzies

 I recently met Mary on my Etsy Quiltsy Team when I asked if anyone wanted to help my blog by doing an interview.  She graciously volunteered to answer my interview questions.  She has a lovely shop full of delightful fuzzy quilts.  Just the kind I'd love for my kids!  Check it out: Frayed Fuzzies.  Let's indulge ourselves and see what Mary has to say about my favorite subject...quilting!


What originally gave you the idea to create such an interesting Etsy shop?
I have a friend who would make crochet hats and other crochet items and she would post photos of them on Facebook with the caption “anybody want this before I list it on Etsy?”  I had no idea what Etsy was at the time, so I visited the site.  I was hooked!  I thought having an Etsy shop would be a fun way to pass the time while I was laid off, and thought that rag quilts would be a cute idea.  And viola!  Frayed Fuzzies was born!

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.
Once I decided to focus on rag quilts, I did a lot of research.  How big was the market on Etsy?  What were the  price points of other sellers?  What kinds of items were other sellers making, and how much different and unique could I make mine to stand out?  From there, it was a lot of trial and error.  Lots of error—ha!  But we learn from our mistakes, don’t we? 

Could you share some tips on how someone would go about growing an Etsy shop or online presence?
Add as many items as you can to your shop.  The more you have, the more visible you will be in search.  Use all the free social networking sites to your advantage: start a Facebook fan page, tweet, blog, join Pinterest or Stumbleupon, post photos to Flikr or Photobucket.  Make sure you have backlinks to everything (where allowed) pointing people back to your Etsy shop.

What is your main hurdle in running your Etsy site to date?
Not enough hours in the day!  Having enough time to balance my day jobs (yes, I said jobs, plural—student loans are a pain, ha!), a personal/social life, and have enough time to create new items, custom items, and promote online.  Online promoting is where the ball gets dropped a lot of the time.  I really wish I had just one or two more hours a day where I could do that.

Tell us about the most interesting item you’ve ever made. 
Hmmm…the most interesting item I’ve ever made?  I once had a custom order for a T-shirt quilt where half the T-shirts were heavy metal bands, and the other half were Johnny Cash.  I found that to be a very dynamic combination!

How do you promote your business?  Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or other?
I have a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/frayedfuzzies
A seasonal newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cwDLD (get a 15% off coupon for my Etsy shop just for signing up!)
And I just launched a blog: www.frayedfuzzies.wordpress.com

Describe the process of creating one of your handmade items. 
For my T-shirt quilts, it all starts with a box of shirts saved up and sent to me by my customer.  I carefully cut each shirt into a square, and stabilize it with interfacing.  As each block is usually fairly large, I do most of the quilting before I put the blocks together.  After I sew the blocks together in a grid, I plop down in front of the TV and put on an episode of a favorite show or a movie and start clipping to get that great, fuzzy edge look.  From there its into the wash so that the edges will start to fray or rag.  After doing one last quality check, it gets packaged up and sent back to the customer.

What do you love most about making your products?  
I love digging through my stash or the rows of fabric at the store to find fun and unique color combinations and mixing patterns.  I especially love mixing bold patterns with the classic form of rag quilting to create a fun, modern look.

Fun Facts:

List 3 adjectives that describe you.
Fun-loving, passionate, caring

What is your favorite food?
Just about anything Italian, but especially lasagna.

If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?
I would be a cat.  I’m very independent and strong-willed.  I was raised to be a strong woman and to be able to stand on my own.  I am easily amused (oh, look a little red dot!) and love to play and hang out with friends and family.  However, if you rub me the wrong way, I do have a temper and will defend myself, friends and family with tooth an nail.

I must say, Mary sounds like someone I'd like to quilt with, hang out with, or have a long lunch on a deck.  You can't say that about everyone.  Hope you enjoy looking through her shop, or reading her new blog.  I'm going to check it out for sure!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WIP: Coffee Cozy and Coaster

This week's 25 Coasters and tags
I've been working on making several coffee cozies and coasters lately.  I have had an order from a coffee shop in town (River City Cafe--RCC) for some.  I got 12 of each made last week.  This week I made 25 more coasters and 4 new coffee cozies.  For now, that's all I need to make for RCC.

I have taken all of my inventory from my Etsy shop to a local B&M co-op shop, Cabin 13, at Pioneer Park (Alaska Land to us Sourdoughs).  The cabin contains all handmade items made here in Fairbanks by local artists. The artists staff the shop on a volunteer basis.  Kinda like a Farmer's Market...you don't get paid for your time directly, only when something sells.

Back to WIP---Now I'm making some coffee cozies for Cabin 13.   That may sound like a conflict of interest, but... I'm using different patterns.  And we all know that color and pattern is everything, right?!

So, last week, I made them all in coffee fabrics.  They are so cute!  I like to use the heat resistant batting that is used in potholders for the coffee cozy.  Not everyone does, but sometime you get a really hot cup of coffee and need something stronger than just cotton.  So, this makes me feel like it is actually functional, not just pretty.

Alaskan Coffee Cozies

The Cabin 13 shop is a tourist attraction.  Thus, I'm using all "Alaskan" fabrics to lure them in.  I have moose, sled dogs, northern lights, Forget-Me-Not, Iris, and Loons.  I'm hoping these sell well.  But, who knows?

I've also made a few knitting needle cases with Alaska embroidered on the outside.  I think it looks classy and will be a good seller.  I hope.  :)  Regardless of the embroidery, I think they are fabulous fabrics!

So, I've been busy moving to the next stage of my little sewing industry: selling my items in a B & M store.  I sell from 12-8 pm every Wednesday all summer.  My 1st week was last week.  I go in tomorrow.  I'm hoping something of mine has sold!  I sure love sewing!  It would be great to someday make a profit.  I'm told that takes awhile though....  So, I wait and try new things.

All in all, things are good.  I'm enjoying summer and working on new projects.  I hope all is well with you.  Carpe Diem!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Garden Over-Haul

Fern Gully with Fairy
Hello all I'd like to catch up on the last few weeks.

I apologize for not keeping up with my blogging. I have been very distracted these last two weeks. Once I returned from my rafting vacation with Sean things have really taken off.

He still had a week's vacation left the the kids really missed us. So, we spent a great week at home, "Stay-Cationing" as they say. That sounds like no work was done, but we did a lot of yard work, which we both enjoy.

I planted a ton of flowers and finished planting my veggie garden. I have neglected my flower beds since having kids, but determined to spruce things up this year. I have two perennial flower beds that I love. One is all shade, which I have dubbed "Fern-Gully" in honor of the bountiful ferns in it. The other is a part-sun garden on a hillside by my driveway. Strangely, I haven't named it yet.

Sunny Driveway Garden
I realized that my sunny driveway garden (see, isn't that ackward?) is very dry. We haul water, so I don't like to water it more than once a week or so. I had thought that the sunlight was the limiting factor, but this year I have decided that it may be the lack of water. I noticed that the native plants (Wild Alaskan Iris) and the plants that thrive in a rock garden (Dianthus) are flourishing while the regular plants (columbine) seem to suffer. So, I am trying out some new perennials this year.

I love perennials! I am trying some drought-resistant perennials. I have added some catmint and some foxglove. I got two different kinds of catmint to try. One is more compact and known to be Very Hardy here in Fairbanks. The other is larger and has already bloomed, but the experts say that it may not survive as well. So I will watch and wait to see what flourishes.

In my Fern Gully I've bought 3 more perennials to add. I have used them before, but they didn't survive a crazy winter we had two years ago. It was an unusual winter of freeze/thaw that we ended up with no snow cover for insulation during January and Feburary... Some of our coldest months. So, these are simply replacement plants rather than new ones. This year I'm trying out a fushia to see if it will live in the 100% shade. We are going to add a water fountain this year too. Our old one seems to have died. I love the sound of running water softly burbling along!

New Porch Garden
I also added a new flower bed by the back porch. It is a mix of annuals and perennials. I think it will do well. However, I planted 65 bulbs there and only 9 came up. That is a disastrous quantity! What could have happened? I dug up a few, and they were still hard without any sprouts after 3 weeks. Weird! I'd love to hear any ideas about what may have caused this... Strange.

Dianthis -- A Survivor


In conclusion, I'd like to say welcome back and I will be more faithful in blogging now.
I'd love to hear about your garden or summer time hobby. Please feel free to respond!

Monday, June 11, 2012

O.A.R.S. Rogue River Trip

We have just returned from our trip on the Rogue River with O.A.R.S. gourmet wine tasting adventure. It was incredible food, beautiful scenery and fun rapids. It rained on and off the first two days, but cleared up the last two days. It was very fun, with a great group of people.

I had thought that we would be the oldest people there, but it turned out we were nearly the youngest. Most of the people were in their late 50s and early 60s. So, I felt very young! That was a fun change of pace.

I learned that if you want hot and sunny days on the Rogue River, you should travel in July or August. So, next time we come it will be later in the season and we will bring our daughters. The age limit is 8 years old for this river and tour group.

For traveling as a couple though, I can't say enough about the gourmet trip. It far exceeded my expectations in the food and presentation. We had a 4 course dinner every night on white linen table cloths it linen napkins. The wine was perfectly paired with the food to enhance an already perfect meal.

My favorite meal was the first night. It started with the first appetizer of cheese and crackers and three home made sausages. A second appetizer of crab cakes was served (wow) and a green salad that was so fresh in flavor, and a succulent chicken with Murrel Mushrooms over rich polenta (grits) with a superb dessert.  We were so busy devouring that delicious food, we forgot to get a picture of it!  So, the next night we were sure to get a picture of dinner: filet of oscar.  Wow!

For me, dessert was a dream come true. Grown up some'mores. A thick handmade gram cracker crust with a rich chocolate ganache topped with a home-made marshmallow that was toasted with a falme-torch and drizzled with a lite chocolate sauce. Our chief was a genius! He made all of his own sauces, sausage, vinegrettes, and paired it with fresh foods from local farms for the utmost in culinary delights. Truly a wizard to pull off these grand 4 course meals.

Our fearless leader Kate: Queen of the Rogue River

Friday, June 1, 2012

20th Anniversary Vacation

Instead of the usual FAF, I'd like to share my good news. My husband and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this month. So, we are going on vacation alone (no kids). We are going white water rafting in Oregon on the Rogue River.  I'm so excited!

I love adventure. White water (WW) rafting is so much fun for me! When I was 25, after graduating from college, I decided to get trained to become a WW rafting guide. I went through a 2 week training period in Colorado, in which I was on the water all day -- often 12 hours a day.  The thrill of guiding a raft through the class 3 and 4 rapids each day seemed to complete me somehow.  I would awake before my alarm, jump out of bed and quickly get ready for the day. Since I'm a night person, not a morning person, this is very uncharacteristic of me.  I could hardly wait to start the day. Rafting! I love it. The freedom of the outdoors, the challenge of navigating a rapid, the team effort necessary to make it, the excitement of conquering the big waves. Rafting is in my blood, it feeds my soul.

At the end of two weeks, I became a certified WW rafting guide.  However, I missed my husband so much that I choose not to take a job guiding. It was an extremely difficult choice because the river sings so loudly in my blood.  And yet, I have not regretted it at all. I would choose my husband a thousand times over anything else. He is my Love of a Lifetime, my partner, my soul-mate. I love him deeply, passionately, and I always will. I am blessed beyond measure to have the one I love as my mate. God is good.

So, this year, Sean surprised me with an anniversary trip with OARS. It is a special trip that has a gourmet chef along to cook our meals as well as a vintner to pair the wine with dinner. It is perfect! We will be rafting all day, then having a splendid meal with perfectly paired wine at night. The Vintner (wine expert) tells us all about the wine and about wine pairing during our meal; my husband and I both enjoy wine pairing. It is amazing how different food can taste when properly paired with wine. It is going to be a trip of a lifetime!

I will not be blogging for at least a week while I'm on the river. You can imagine me blissfully seizing the moment and sucking every ounce of fun out of my adventure. Until next time... Godspeed!