Thursday, September 14, 2017

From Chaos to Order

I (Teri) am a person of piles—piles of papers, piles of "to do" items, piles of projects. It is a rule in our house: Don't mess with my piles! My right-brained system of organization depends on seeing something in order to remember to complete the task involved. Mail that needs to be answered goes on a pile. It may be an inch deep, but I know where it is. (In all honesty, this was probably one of the hardest things my husband had to learn about me, as he is just the opposite. It's true what they say about those attractions.)
When we moved this summer, part of the dream of our new home was a roomy space to house my studio. I actually had a fairly large room in our other house, but as you will see, my "stuff" exceeded my ability to keep it organized. Who are we kidding; I just didn't stay on top of it! Every now and then, it would even get to be more than I could handle, and I would do a total overhaul. But not often enough. With some trepidation, I will share a peek of my OLD sewing room mess, so you can see where I started.

My cutting table and sewing cabinet are piled with projects—at least three different things
I was working on at the time. Not very neat piles, either!

A dresser full of fabric, baskets of supplies and unfinished projects,
a suitcase full of quilts for a lecture, and bags of class materials

Needless to say, I rarely worked at this desk! 

The closet housed two book shelves, one shelf for books, and the rest for fabric.
Attempts were made to organize by color, which would last until I started pulling fabric for a new project.

Packing up that mess was my biggest job in preparing to move. I organized as I packed, did a bit of purging (not much!), and vowed to maintain some physical sense of order in my new studio. We were able to determine how the room would be designed, so I really would have no excuses, and my husband, an organization guru, was all about helping me to get the room in order. Maybe it was because he would be sharing the room with me; he has his office in one corner of the room. Whatever his driving force—helpfulness or self-preservation—his help was much appreciated. (I have a gem, for sure!)

It took me two months to get to a functional point, and I still have a way to go, but what a delight to have room for everything to have a place. Oh, and it's pretty awesome to know where everything is when I need it! 

You can see I have at least twice the area now, so no excuses. Now that I've shared my embarrassing mess, perhaps you will be my accountability in staying organized. ☺

Here is a short tour of my new space. The view on the left is from the doorway at the top of the stairs.

The sewing part of my studio—I love my Martelli cutting table!

That beat-up oak dresser got a coat (or three) of chalk paint and now houses vintage treasures, like embroidery and doilies, as well as batting, flannels, and muslin. Atop is an organizer holding charm packs, ribbons, and miscellaneous necessities.
The bin, bottom right, holds my quilt hoop and some UFOs that I plan to finish: in clear view as a reminder to work on them!

My favorite part is this peg board, inspired by Jan Vaine and her sister, Jo Cridge, from Graham Cracker Collection.
It is perfect for organizing my embroidery threads and ribbons, so they are in clear view when I am matching materials for a new block. What an advantage to have it all in front of me. Well, maybe not all, but a lot of it! On the bookshelf to the right are several bins of threads that didn't lend themselves to being hung, like Valdani and DMC.

Another ancient book shelf that I rejuvenated with chalk paint holds buttons, pin cushions, light box, and boxes of patterns.

My cutting table butts up to my sewing table. I have tons of light, but I always add a few more Ott lights in critical locations. One can never have too much light! In the nook in the corner, I have a table and chairs, where I can plan projects, sit and appliqué, assemble kits, or whatever. The table currently holds a pile of quilts that need to be hung. The back wall is a design wall, and hooks on the wall hold my project bags.

My specially requested twelve-foot closet is a dream! All those wire baskets that had been out in the room before are now behind doors. And lined, so things don't fall through the wire. With the extra room, we got another short set to stack, so I didn't have to stuff them to overflowing.

My husband was sure that it would be better for me to have shelves than to use the old bookshelves for fabric, so he installed eight-foot shelving and lined them for my stash. We have no secrets about the quantity of materials I "need."
Did I mention that I married a real gem?

Baskets hold silks, wool, mailing envelopes, ribbon, fancy fabrics, and hand-dyes.
The plastic drawers to the right of the baskets have scraps, organized by color.

We had a built-in desk installed for our computers. I still haven't discovered the box that holds my keyboard, so I've been solely using my laptop. We haven't yet hung all our artwork, but we adorned one wall with some of our old record albums.

And here is my gem, working in his office. I wasn't kidding when I stated that he would have a corner of the room for his office space. Wasn't I generous to give him so much room? Just kidding. I'm sure you've guessed who the generous one is!

I am learning that when my surfaces are not filled with piles, they are far more useful. Like when you get a phone call asking about cutting lace for tables at a wedding reception. How nice not to have to spend a half hour moving piles. Now, I can hide them in that twelve-foot closet!! 

Kidding, again. I hope...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A "Quilty" Visit to Rothenburg

Moving to a new place and making new friends can be daunting. I (Kara) was pretty nervous about how I would connect with people—in not just a new place, but a new country. Had it not been for the kindness of the Black Forest Quilt Guild and some of their members, I might have become a stitching hermit! In a previous post, Welcome to Germany: Quilter's Style, I shared how I was welcomed to BFQG with open arms. The welcome extended outside of guild meetings: from stitching visits in homes to a field trip to the Zwiegart store and factory to purchase threads for my Academy block. Most recently, some of the guild ladies invited me to Rothenberg ob der Tauber for a visit to a quilt shop there. Of course, I said yes!

Our view as we entered through one of the city gates.

I had heard that Rothenburg was a must see while we were living here, and the fact that it had a quilt shop made this field trip even better. The day started out a little cloudy, but by the time we got there the clouds were moving out and we were ready to shop.

Our fabric shopping shoes are on!

As we entered through one of the gates in the wall, the quilt shop was one of the first shops we saw. It is unmistakably a quilt shop, and the outside displays were so charming that even if you didn't quilt, you would want to go through the door just to see what was inside.

Der Patchwork Engel

While the shop is small, the owners have made the most of the space, with enough different fabrics to satisfy many tastes. Der Patchwork Engel, or The Patchwork Angel in English, was filled with fabric, patterns, and samples. It even included a display of Traditional German fabric.

This shelf was full of not only German fabrics,
but all sorts of small purses, pouches, and
 tissue holders as well.
Lots of different fabrics and patterns to choose from!

The cutting counter and some lovely
reproduction fabrics

When asked to go on this trip, I thought the quilt shop would be all there was to see, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized how much more there was to Rothenburg. It is a quintessential, medieval, German town and is one of the few towns left with the encircling wall still intact. If you never stepped foot in any of the shops or restaurants, just walking the streets would be a treat for the eyes.

The well-preserved buildings will transport you back in time.

A quaint timbered house

The town center

A cottage straight out of a fairy tale!

There was more shopping to be done, so we made our way in and out of many of the shops. Never one to miss an antique store, I led the charge into a little shop we found. I only bought a few doilies to add to my collection, but was tempted by a few other things.

Lederhosen anyone?

A sweet sewing box.
Still filled with treasure!

In and out of the shops we wandered, stopping whenever something caught our eye. Lace, chocolate, dirndls; there was so much to see!

Beautiful lace trim found in a linens shop.

I didn't adequately capture the scale of
this giant bag of Lindt truffles!
A dirndl to go with the lederhosen

Another dirndl option!

Rothenburg wouldn't be complete without the German, Käthe Wohlfahrt, Christmas store. This store has all things Christmas for every person's taste and wallet. Upon entering, you follow a path similar to Ikea, that leads you through beautiful Christmas displays.

The Christmas village.

All too soon, it was time to head back and leave this stunningly beautiful town. I fell in love with its charm and beauty, and I thought it would be wonderful to show it to our soon-to-be-visiting friends. I wish I had read Rick Steves' review of Rothenburg; especially the part that tells you to put the full name, "Rothenburg ob der Tauber," in your GPS. There are quite a few Rothenburgs in Germany, and if you don't enter the right one, you will find yourself in a completely different Rothenburg than the one you were intending to visit. Had I read that before the road trip we took with our friends recently, I wouldn't have had to tell my husband that we had just driven two hours in the wrong direction! 

I will come back Rothenburg

Thursday, August 31, 2017

News and Updates from Through the Needle's Eye

With summer (too quickly) drawing to a close, I (Teri) thought it might be good to pause and take a look at what our fall season has in store. As you likely know, Kara and I have both relocated—she is living in Germany for a few years, and I have moved a bit west to a new home, still in Maryland. We have both been getting settled and spending a lot of time texting and working via FaceTime. What would we do without technology?! It has indeed been our friend.

I have always loved the Peanuts gang, so what happier way to start than to share an image of some blanket love? (I imagine Linus gave his blanket so much love over the years that it ended up looking a bit like a patchwork quilt.) And isn't sharing a quilt with a friend the best kind of happiness?

So, now I shall get on with sharing our quilty news!

The Potts Palooza Continues

This past year, we taught embroidery embellishment at Patches Quilting and Sewing in Mt. Airy, MD, using the Margaret Potts Quilt pattern, by the Baltimore Appliqué Society. Our class enjoyed it so much that they wanted to continue. Our next six blocks will include ribbon embellishment. You can read more about the Margaret Potts quilt by reading our Potts Palooza posts. Since Kara is in Germany, she will be stitching up some of the models, but I will be teaching solo here in Maryland. We will surely miss her in class!

The first block for October is this one, right, with flowers created with wired ribbon and stems embroidered with silk ribbon by River Silks.

In the Garden
A BOM Series by Through the Needle’s Eye

We are excited to introduce our new Block of the Month, In the Garden. These blocks are primarily wool appliqué, embellished with embroidery and ribbonwork. Kara and I are planning to put the blocks together at the end of the year to create a garden-themed quilt. We are working on the patterns and models now. (An ocean between us doesn't stop our teamwork!) I will be teaching the class each month, beginning in October, at Primitive Homespuns Wool & Needleworks in Frederick, MD. After the class, I will blog about it, and then the pattern will be released for purchase. Ribbon needed to complete blocks will be included with the patterns, and wool and thread kits will be available for purchase through Primitive Homespuns. Our first block, below, is Cornflowers, or Bachelor Buttons. We hope you'll join us for some gardening fun!

Flora and Fauna of Germany

Just in case you don't have enough to stitch, we are also offering a FREE Block of the Month Stitch-Along, based on photos Kara has taken around her new home in Germany. If you missed the kick-off last week, get your first pattern here.

Can you tell we love gardens?

Registration for the Academy of Appliqué

To learn about our class offerings for the 2018 Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg, VA, you can read about them in Fleurs and Blumen. Both of the blocks were European-inspired; one from a vintage French fabric panel, and the other from an old German botanical print. Registration for classes opens on Labor Day—this coming Monday, September 4, at 12:00 NOON. Don't delay! Classes fill fast!! We would so enjoy meeting you there. We, as in our partnership will be reunited for this gig. Even an ocean can't keep Kara away from the Academy! 😀

Zierblumen (Bouquet of Flowers)
Oiseau et Panier (Bird and Basket)


Did you know we have a website? I am happy to announce that I have finally worked on updating it. Moving really threw me behind, but I am at last getting on top of things. We even have a store! It's pretty small right now, but promises to grow as our In the Garden BOM patterns are released. You can purchase our Marcia's Flowers patterns, patterns and kits for last year's Academy blocks, Floral Wreath and The Secret Garden, as well as ribbon to make pansies, described in our tutorial, Pansies.

More to Come

I have a series of workshops planned to teach for the Baltimore Appliqué Society, focusing on ribbon and embroidery embellishments. More information about that exciting project will be a future post. 

And finally, I am just now getting the chance to sit and read my new Quiltfolk magazine, left, which just arrived last week. Evidently, my issue got lost in the mail-forwarding process. I am looking forward to enjoying my reading "visit" with Hawaiian quilters. If you haven't checked out this magazine, you should. You won't be sorry! (To read previous posts, read Quiltfolk and The Quiltfolk Solution for Creative Inertia, where you can find a discount shopping code for a subscription.) More exciting news about Quiltfolk later, as well... (Cue suspenseful background music. 🎶)

That's all for now. Thanks for visiting; come back soon!

PS—Did you know this post is full of links for your convenience? If you see light teal words within the text, you can click on them to get more information. Enjoy!