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Reverse Tweezers

One of my favorite “unsung hero tools” are the reverse tweezers. What are they you ask??? Well, regular tweezers you squeeze to close them. Reverse tweezers you squeeze to open them so they are closed when resting. So when does this come in handy? Just about anytime you need an extra hand or finger. Today […]

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Quilt Block Mania – June 2023

The theme for this months blocks is “Places”. What better place than our blue pearl floating along in the universe? I immediately thought of a family of aliens coming to visit Earth. The kids were whining “Are we there yet?” to which Mom excitedly responds “Only 2.5 million miles to go…almost there!” Ha! Pattern includes […]

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Quilt Block Mania – April 2023

I’m excited to be participating in Quilt Block Mania. The theme this month is “Neighborhood”. When I first saw this I thought of a street sign. I know, I’m just a little odd… It could be the sign for your street or perhaps a dream vacation spot or maybe a memory of a fun time […]

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Retreats are so much fun!

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I had the pleasure of participating in Patty Sawyer’s Guinea Pig Retreat this weekend. What a blast.  In addition to Patty’s judging and longarming businesses, she operates a retreat venue for small groups. She asked a few of us to come on up and be her guinea pigs to get everything opened up and running. OK, I confess, she and her hubby had everything opened up from winter, we just had to make sure everything was running. It’s a tough job…here was the view from the back deck. Some of the bulbs were just starting to pop up too.

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Patty fed us more food than a quilter has a right to eat in one weekend. Here is the ice cream sundae spread we had after dinner on Saturday. We also invented a signature cocktail, just for Patty. We named it the Guinea Pig. If you’re lucky, maybe she’ll serve you one! If her hubby offers to make pancakes, just say yes. You can thank me later.

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Patty also took us on a mini shop hop to visit a few local haunts. My favorite was Oxford Mill End Store in Oxford ME. Here’s a shot of Patty and the owner Cathy Corbett acting all business like. I also backed up a bit so you can see we gave them the full paparazzi experience. Yes, we all bought stuff…sigh…more stash…

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If you are looking for a spot to hang out with a few of your quilting buddies, this is the place. It can hold up to 8 people. The scenery is devine, the food is plentiful (and then some) and the hostess is the mostest. You can get Patty’s contact info at http://b2bquilting.com/contact.asp

Don’t delay though. I have a feeling she will have a fully booked schedule really quickly! Then you and your crew can be all relaxed and smiley just like us Guinea Pigs (Terri Sontra, Jill Mott, Judy Damon and Linda Pearl)

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The Best of 2014

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Every year when I do the year-end inventory I find it interesting to tally up what was the “hot” item for the year. This year I thought I would share that with you.

The best selling tools of 2014? Hands down the Perfect Scissors and the Bohin Chalk Pencil. The Wood Iron was in third place.

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Hottest patterns? Happee Tree by Laura Bittel was #1 and Ashleigh by Calico Carriage Quilt Design was #2.

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Best selling twister pattern was Crab Twist by Handcrafts by Jennifer. Two popular twister patterns are Here Kitty Kitty and Who Let The Dogs Out by Raggedy Ruth Designs. I sold 50% more cats than dogs. My dog Zelda is hanging her head in embarrassment…

Crab Twist pattern Here Kitty, Kitty pattern Who Let The Dogs Out pattern

Best selling Schmetz machine needle was the Microtex/Sharp size 80. Best selling John James hand needle was a three way tie Sharps #9, Big Eye 10 and Milliner Gold.

Embroidery 5PKJohn James Sharps Needles

Best selling Presencia thread color? #355 Light Gray

355 Light Gray

Best selling fun item? The spool pin doily.

Spool Pin Doily, various colors

Now, lets see what will be #1 in 2015!

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Quilting R&R 2014

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Well, our first retreat was a smashing success! We only had a few minor glitches, all of them my fault. Next year I need to bring kleenex, do formal introductions among everyone (how could I forget that?), bring more extension cords and take more pictures.  Our venue is the Snowy Owl Inn in Waterville Valley, NH. The photo above was the view out the dining room window. Our innkeepers were incredible. One of our guests forgot to pack all the cords for her sewing machine which rendered it useless for the weekend. Innkeeper Jenny to the rescue with a spare machine of hers that she let our guest use. Extra machines were not on my packing list so thank you Jenny. Our chef, George, was a big hit. If he ever needs a new family I’m sure several of the ladies would be more than willing to take him home.

We started off with a small welcome at each table…

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Everyone also received a swag bag with a travel iron, travel cutting/ironing mat and more…

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One of the swag items was a kit to make a holder for the travel iron. Here’s Retta with hers all done…

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Sarah Ann Smith was our guest teacher for the weekend. Here are two versions of the project she taught us and Sarah working the room…

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Did I mention that I needed to take more pictures? Yes, that’s right, I took NO pictures of the guests projects…sigh… You can see Sarah’s blog post here though. She was on the ball and took pictures. I need to hire her next year. Except I took this picture. That’s Anne working a piece of fabric. She used one piece for all her flowers and leaves. It looked awesome…if only I had a photo to show you.

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We had other activities too…puzzles, block raffle (this picture was before all the blocks were added…need more pictures), raffle prizes for the scavenger hunt, chocolate…

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There was lots to do outside too. Waterville Valley has a big Fall Festival that was the same weekend. There was music in the town square every afternoon and evening, 5K run…ok, these ladies did not do the 5K but they did do the 1 hour guided hike! They came back totally energized. There was even another quilting retreat at another inn and some of them came to visit us!

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We had our own store for anything that was forgotten…

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We could also visit the shops in the town square. Whenever I went to the square I kept seeing these hooks all over. I couldn’t figure out what they were for. Then more people started showing up and it became clear. They were for hooking up your pooch while you shopped! Zelda would be in heaven with so many people to visit with.

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A huge thank you to Steve and Jenny of the Snowy Owl Inn. They were so easy to work with and made everything run smoothly. If you ever need a venue for a large gathering or just a family weekend. I cannot recommend them enough. Did I mention that each room had it’s own jacuzzi tub? They think of everything. And a huge thank you to my guest teacher Sarah Ann Smith and our entertainer Alison Bolt (again, no pictures…grr…) and to all the ladies who spent their weekend with me. I guess I did something right because ALL of them signed up for next years retreat! Well, all but one – she’s moving so I guess I’ll give her a pass…

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Registration is open for our 2015 retreat. Our guest teacher will be Ami Simms and the project will be Dancing Spools. Space will be limited to 27 guests and we’re already almost 1/2 way full so don’t delay!

Now, what will I put in the 2015 swag bags…

 

 

 

 

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Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

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We all have a comfort zone. That place where you know everything and nothing is weird or unusual. Well, I stepped outside that zone yesterday. I took Moosette and a friend to Comic Con in Boston. I now have an understanding of what non-quilters or novice quilters must experience at their first big quilt show.

For those of you who don’t know what Comic Con is…it is a convention for anyone who is interested in movies (mostly Sci-Fi), computer games, anime, comic books and cartoons. Quite a number of the people dress up as their favorite character. Dressing up is called cosplay. Some of the costumes are very simple and some are very elaborate. If you are a people watcher (as I am) it was a fun day. Moosette and I have been working on her costume for months. She dressed up as a character from a computer game she plays. It’s based on Alice in Wonderland and she fights the evil characters from the story and is helped by the good characters. She uses several weapons but the one Moosette chose is the large pepper grinder.

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For anyone that knows me, it should come as quite a shock that I made a dress. This was the beginning of my being outside my comfort zone! It has set-in sleeves (I cursed a lot), a zipper (I cursed some more) and a HUGE bow on the back with a skull in the middle. Yeah, try finding a tutorial for a HUGE bow with attached skull…it’s not out there… Moosette made an exact replica of the necklace that the character wears. We found the right tights and boots and we even made a large pepper grinder with some help from hubby. It was a true family affair. Moosette’s friend went as Tinkerbell. It was so cute watching little girls come up to her and ask to have their picture taken with her. I don’t know which of them was more excited. Moosette tried not to smile in a lot of the photos, she said she was trying to stay in character…

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We saw characters from games, tv shows, movies…

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We saw Balloon Lady, Princess Man and Sailor Dude…

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We saw random battles break out…

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This kid was so excited to battle someone else with a light saber…

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Dr. Who was very popular. Guess I should look into that show to see what all the excitement was about!

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We ended the day when Alice finally found her white rabbit! All in all, a wonderful adventure with two great young ladies. I encourage everyone to step outside your comfort zone now and again – whether in quilting or another pursuit.

So…what to do for cosplay next year…

 

 

 

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Insane Quilter

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My guild recently had a speaker that is, dare I say…insane. Her name is Karen Sticht. She is actually a member of our guild and I have seen her work before but had never seen a lot of the items she brought for her trunk show. Karen is known for her work in miniatures. There is always the running joke that Karen can’t make a 12″ block, that’s a whole quilt for her. I just wanted to share the work of someone that has great attention to detail.

Here is a Log Cabin quilt. It is machine stitched. I left my fingers in the photo so you can have a reference of the size.

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Karen’s Log Cabin

 

Here’s a close-up of the log cabin. And, yes, that is a PIECED binding!

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Log Cabin close-up

 

Here is a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. It’s all hand stitched.

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Karen’s Grandmother’s Flower Garden

 

Here is a close-up. I love the partial blocks in the border. Looks like a coneflower.

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Grandmother’s Flower Garden close-up

I think the most interesting part of Karen’s trunk show was the progression from the early days with 1.5″ squares to the more current time with these tiny pieces.  I will never make anything this tiny even if I have three lifetimes. While I truly appreciate all that goes into her quilts I think Karen is just a little looney-tunes…but in a good way.

Keep up the good work Karen!

(and please no comments on my lack of a manicure…)

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Feeling the Love Give-Away!

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It has been far too long since we have had a give-away.  Hmmm…what to do, what to do….

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Moose Shipping List

I started my business in 1999. I have no idea why but I started keeping track of where orders were sent. This little slip of paper has hung on the bulletin board in 3 different houses. Every time I shipped something to a new state, it was dutifully checked off. As you can see I even made note of the “M” state abbreviations that always trip me up. As international orders started coming in I wrote the countries down as well. There is only one state that has no check mark. I am not feeling the love from South Carolina (whimper, snivel, whimper…) Have I done something to offend the good people of South Carolina? Are there no quilters in South Carolina who yearn for quality tools? I don’t know… I have even shipped to Canada, England, Australia, Norway, Germany, Singapore and just this week, Spain. But no South Carolina.

So, here’s our give-away. It has two parts:

Part 1: If you are in South Carolina, the first person to place an order will get an extra special gift in their package. It’s a surprise but will be well worth the effort of navigating the cart. You will also earn my undying appreciation to complete my list of states. That, of course, is priceless.

Part 2: For everyone else in the world (ok, South Carolinians too…) simple leave a comment below and answer the following question. We will give away these four packs of fabric samples. Each pack contains 10-14 8″X10″ samples of fabrics from the latest fabric lines.

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Purple Moose Give-Away

Here’s the question…

You are stranded on a magical quilting island. There is an unending supply of fabric and thread. There is also a machine and basic supplies for every person. You can only bring 3 items with you. What 3 quilting items could you not live without?

That’s it, answer away. You have until Sunday 6/15/14 at 4pm EST to answer. You may answer as many times as you wish. Each answer will be one entry. We will randomly pick four winners on Sunday evening. And if you’re thinking this is just our sneaky way of seeing what tools and gadgets are popular that we need to look into…you would be right!

Have fun!

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Do You Craftsy?

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If you haven’t discovered Craftsy yet…what are you waiting for? It doesn’t cost anything to get a Craftsy account and once you have one you can download patterns (both free and for a cost). You can also take online classes and buy fabric and other items too. Although I can’t see why you would want to buy any “stuff” there when we have such cool things in our store (grin…)

One of my buddies has recently offered a new class on Craftsy – Sandi Blackwell of Square-agonals fame. Sandi has come up with a way to make quilts with a diagonal or on-point setting without all that fussy math. The class includes almost 2 hours of instruction broken into small sections that you can go through at your leisure. During the course you can complete a quick, on-point table runner, a medallion style quilt with a vibrant secondary design and a charming traditional basket quilt set on-point. There is also help finishing the projects with beautiful borders  and tips to add your own style spin using the Square-agonals technique.

Sandi makes it easy to create on-point and diagonal designs so you will have more time to quilt and enjoy your finished projects. It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Oh, but it does! Sandi has generously offered a discount code so you can get $5.00 off the price of the class. Simply click this link for the discount. You can check out more about the class too before you actually purchase it. Regular price is $29.99 but the discounted price is $24.99.

Can’t wait to see the great quilts you all create using Sandi’s technique. Leave me a comment and we’ll randomly choose one to get a free class with Sandi! You have until Mother’s Day 5/11/14 at noon EST. Ready, set, comment…

 

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Cutting Mat Cleaning

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There are so many other things I would rather do than clean – shovel snow, weed the garden, hide in the closet and cry… I’m sure some of you can relate. Sometimes though a quick clean-up can make your whole project go much smoother. Here’s a tasty little tid-bit on cleaning your rotary cutting mat.

When your cutting mat get fibers stuck in the cuts it can be very annoying. Your fabric won’t lie flat or slide across easily and the older your mat, the worse it gets. If you have been slicing and dicing batting or flannel your mat can look like a fluffy bunny.

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I buy these el-cheapo scrubbers at the dollar store, bargain bins, wherever. Oddly, Staples has always been a good spot to find them cheap. Oh no, I just gave away a cool bargain hunting ground… Anyhoo, they come 2 or 3 to a package and run about a buck. Brand doesn’t matter, just cheap.  Simply wipe the cutting mat with the scrubber and it pulls all those fibers out so you have a smooth cutting surface again. Easy peasy. Just make sure that it’s clean and only used for your mat. You wouldn’t want last nights pot roast to be embedded in the cuts of your mat, yuck.

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Purrfect Spots

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Did ya see my guest blog? Check it out… http://purrfectspots.blogspot.com/2014/03/welcome-my-guest-blogger-terri-sontra.html

Thank you, thank you to Nan Baker at Purrfect Spots for having me as a guest blogger. It was fun. Nan and I first “met” in an online class that we both took to figure out Facebook. We stayed neck and neck building our “likes” numbers but she has pulled ahead recently. Not that it’s a competition…or that anyone is keeping track…or that she’s more popular than me (sniff..)

It has been fun watching our businesses grow along side each other since then. Nan is a talented quilt designer who has a passion for our four-footed friends. I look forward to doing things with Nan again in the future. Maybe I’ll even get to meet her in person one of these days!

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Need Glasses?

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Just wanted to share a testimonial. I have no affiliation with this company aside from being a very happy customer.

I wear glasses. The older I get, the stronger they get…sigh… I have always been a good girl and bought my glasses from the eye doctor. Silly me. Our insurance guy recently told us about the company that he gets his glasses from online. Hubby and I were dubious but we forged ahead. Normally we spend $400-$500 a pair at the eye doctor thanks to all the extras we need (progressive, bi-focal, tri-focal…sigh…) This high cost left me with the pair of glasses that I wore every day and no backups. I was envious whenever I saw someone with a wild color or funky glasses.

So I decided that the pair I ordered would be my backup pair and I would choose a funky color. I was sure they couldn’t get the prescription right and didn’t have much faith. How wrong I was – I LOVE my new glasses. They are now my everyday glasses.

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They even have Purple Moose emblazened on the side. How cool is that? The best part is hubby and I each got a pair (with all the “extras”) and it only cost about $140 total, for two pair. This included a special they were running at the time. They have all green glasses on sale this month…I’m thinking I need a lime green pair.

So if you wear glasses I highly recommend you check out Zenni Optical at http://www.zennioptical.com , you won’t be disappointed. You can even upload a head shot of yourself and “try on” the glasses on your own face. It’s pretty cool.  Have fun! And yes, the temperature is in the negatives today and I’m wearing my furry hat.

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