Saturday, January 9, 2010

Possibilites...An Amazing Experience

Having been a sewer for as long as I can imagine (I swear I came out of the womb with thread in my grasp), I have had the privilege of being a sewing gadget and publication junkie.  And, while I was a garment sewer for a long time and quilting grew on me when my kids were toddlers, my first publications were very few but I have noticed that I have nearly every publication from Nancy Smith and Lynda Milligan of Possibilites and The Great American Quilt Factory.  I have made their teddy bears, dolls (yes, dolls) and early quilt patterns (paper dolls).  Of all the things I have kept, every one of theirs have remainded part of my collection.  I guess I was a "groupie" long before I even knew who Nancy and Lynda were. 

In the last few years, I have had the honor and privilege to get to know them and Ashley Smith (daughter of Nancy) better.  Knowing them in this business has even more enamored me to their work, their passion and their spirit. 

While travelling with my son Teddy, I was able to carve out some time to trek to Denver to visit their store and to spend time with them.  I am even more amazed at their energy and their creativity and their store.  Along with getting to see their staff helping out on a very busy day, we made time for some lunch and fun conversation.  It was a great time and gave me a fabulous perspective.  As business owners, many believe we control our schedules and can come and go as we please.  Not so.  Taking time off in a busy day often means we will be taking lots of work home.  Yet, they took the time to spend away from the store a bit to enjoy lunch and for a chance to share with me a very fabulous view of Denver that I never would have seen had it not been for Ashley's adventuresome spirit and our willingness to try something different! 

When we made our way back to the store, I was busy chatting and getting ready to take some pictures of their amazing, amazing store before I left.  When I looked around and didn't find Nancy and Lynda, I was a bit embarassed that I had likely taken them from their office duties.  It was so refreshing to see them moving into action FAST.  Like myself, they enjoy getting out and being with customers and sharing their love first hand.  So, I snapped pictures of them cutting fabric for customers.  This is humbling and rewarding when one considers how incredibly talented these women are and how far their reach has been in our industry.  Yet, they reach into what got them into the business in the first place....just like so many of us....a passion to share with others their love for creating and sharing. 

I had hoped for pictures with them before I left but am carrying long with me the memory of their cheerful service and their genuine (and warm) welcome to me as I interrupted their day.   I will never forget their generous service and welcome to their customers and to me as a visitor.  Not only is their work inspiring, but THEY are personally and professionally inspiring!

They remain some of my favorite designers and people I respect. 

One other touching thing I found in their store were the quilts of other designers in their offices.  When asked about the quilts, there was such reverence for the designers in their voices of their willingness to share with them.  Perhaps my favorite was from one of my all time favorite designers and people, Libby Lehman.  An early rendition of her ribbon work but done in applique. 

Amazing people.....all of them.  I am truly blessed to enjoy their company.  Such an inspiring day!

All the Best to You, jill

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Holidays Behind Us and Balance Ahead

Our daughter Monica was given a new puppy for Christmas...when lively, little Layla was out of control in the sewing room, we tried to corral her in my Bernina suitcase.  While she was cute, she didn't stay there long.  I think my daughter was hoping the case would be a good puppy tote to go home...but since it is my favorite and Layla didn't find it a good home, it is still mine. 

It was a wild time at our house with a new puppy and two grown Schnauzers (mine and Therese's).  Olive, Macy and Layla got along just fine.  The sewing room was their favorite haunt since there are so many tables to chase each other around or maybe it is just the good company and good karma of the room!

Two of our daughters got Aurifil thread cases full of a huge array of 40-weight threads.  Monica exclaimed, "How will I use all this thread?"  She must not have been thinking!  We amended her thinking in moments, deciding she might need a visit to the sewing room to get her sewing heart jump started and get some sense back into her.

It is always humorous to see what brings delight in the givers and the receivers of gifts.  Often the oddest things will bring such attention.  Teddy was given a package of pickle band-aids.  Yes, shaped like pickles and colored like them too.  You would have thought he got a new car.  He promptly pulled up his pant leg and planted a band-aid on his recently injured knee.  When I was taking him back to school, he commented twice on how much he likes those pickle band-aids.  Who would have thought?

And then there are those gifts that fit the non-sewers in our lives just about as well as a sewing machine and more fabric.  Our son-in-love, Joel, loves to hunt and Monica is making sure that he is plenty warm.  I am not sure Therese is so wild about Joel's new warm-wear.  I will get a kick out of the day he wears it to work.  Monica's boyfriend Carel was given a Sawz-All.  Well, his expression says it all.  I believe he just got the sewing machine of his choice.  Being a new home owner, he already has plans for his remodeling projects. 

At any rate, whatever one got for Christmas, I am hoping that everyone found some time for some balance...some rest, some laughter, some sharing, some quiet time.  I really do think it is a good lesson for us to take into 2010.  For me, a good amount of time spending with the family and relaxing was the perfect lesson for the start of my new year.  While I can't always control how much my obligations press upon me or the level of stress that surrounds me, I know that  I can control the amount of time and attention I afford those things with the good things of family, of friends, of quiet and of rest. 

Recently Jim West asked his Facebook friends to describe the New Year in one word.  Mine is BALANCE.  It is very clear to me every day that I can't be everything to everyone.  Since Happiness is a Choice, I need to be very careful to create my own definitions for what happiness will be for me lest someone else would try to decide it for me.

More time to sew, to write, to enjoy my family and friends, to look after the most simple of solutions and always....always seek balance. 

I clearly remember the day I mastered bike riding.  Being the oldest of three children close in age, I was very frustrated that mastering the bicycle didn't come as easy to me as my siblings.  Yet, I clearly remember being told that you shouldn't think about falling down.  Staying up on a bike means you need to think about riding a bike rather than not.  I actually quit working at it and will never forget the morning I woke very early so as to meet up with (and show) my dad before he left for his day painting houses.  What a thrill it was for me to glide BALANCED down the street, ease around and scoop back to see his smile for me.   That is my hope for 2010...  All the Best to You, jill