Thursday, June 15, 2017

A "Normal" Day on the 'Highway'

After a busy couple of weeks on the road, I was glad to start out this week realizing that it’s back to ‘normal’ here on the highway. Then I got to thinking: what exactly does that mean? ‘Normal.’ So I decided to take a closer look at a typical day around here. Thought you might enjoy a sneaky peak into one of my ‘typical’ weekdays.

Almost without fail, after making Dave’s lunch and he goes off to work around 7am, I start the day with a couple of hours of sewing time. If I don’t get in at least a seam or two, it seems my whole day is off. Right now I’m working on some step outs for my August trip to Alaska. I’ll be visiting three guilds while I’m there. These step-outs are for Elsa’s Prayer Quilt from the new book.

By about 9 am, it’s time for a shower and some breakfast. Basic stuff here. Oh poo, looks like I broke a yolk. . .

The girls typically insist that I share the orange juice.

I might grab a few minutes to work on some kits for the Vermont Quilt Festival. Seems like there is always an upcoming event to plan for. Sometimes I have a helper to assemble kits (Hi Barb!) but that is usually more effective when I’ve planned ahead. A-hem.

Next, it’s time for some computer work. I’d say that I spend about 8 hours a day working on correspondence, patterns, and other computer work. For about two weeks before and after Summer Solstice the skylights in my office space create some pretty heavy-glare from about noon to 2pm on sunny days.

That’s when I grab my laptop and migrate to the temporary office space on the front porch if it’s a nice day. Here is my ‘remote’ office. . . .

 . . . and here is my front-yard view. (I am a lucky girl)

During the day, the neighborhood is really quiet. But there is plenty to distract me in the yard. A little rustle in the leaves tells me I have a visitor. Can you find the baby bunny hidden among the honeysuckle branches?

The moving water in the pond brings all kinds of birds - catbirds, chipping sparrows, and robins among my favorites to come and sip or bathe. And it wouldn’t be the Hummingbird Highway without a visit from Mr. Ruby-Throat.

You would think with all the distractions of my outdoor office space, I’d get nothing done! In fact, it’s just the opposite! I find that I’m really focused on the project of the day, and I get more done than if I were in my 'normal' office space. Who knows why?

For example, I’m working on some new things to go along with The Early Bird from the Splendid Sampler (by the way, this week’s featured block for the second Splendid Sampler sew-along is The Early Bird!). The pattern in the book is paper pieced (not my thing), so if you prefer the patchwork version, you can get it here. Or, if you don’t want to do the cutting at all, (this is BIG news!!) I’m hoping to have a pre-cut version of The Early Bird for you very soon. Plus, more bird blocks are on the drawing board, too! I’m very excited about this new offering, but most of the particulars are still in the earliest stages. So stay tuned . . . And shhh! This is just between us girls, okay?

In the evening, after dinner and dishes, I like to sit down with some hand work. Lately I’ve been finishing up bindings on these Swirl Mug Mats made with the Mini Pineapple Trim Tool.

Speaking of pineapples AND the Splendid Sampler. I’ve been using the leftover bits of fabric from my 'SS' quilt (no, the quilting isn’t done yet) to make these six-inch traditional pineapple blocks. I’ve decided I’m stopping at 35 blocks, and I have 28 in the stack. Only a few more to go then I can come up with some sort of setting. This is my ‘other’ project I have off to the side at my sewing table to sew in between the workshop samples I’m making in the morning.

Fridays are different. That’s when I usually get out and run some errands during the day. And just around 5pm, Dave texts me that he’s leaving work. That’s code for ‘meet me at the brewery (a craft brewery featuring Belgian-style ales and libations that is about two or three miles away from the home office) and let’s get the weekend started!'

So many variables can come into play on any single ‘normal’ day. But I like to think that whatever the day brings, that I’m moving forward, even a little and enjoying my surroundings as the day unfolds. How about you? What does your ‘normal’ day look like? Calm, chaotic, unpredictable?

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Packed Month

To say that the next few weeks are going to be busy is a bit of an understatement for me. I'll be on the road for most of the month. Here's where you can catch up with me. . .

A couple weeks ago, my work table was full of fabric, interfacing, zippers, and batting all stacked up. Waiting for a few last details before final packaging.

The kits are to make Chequed Bagues and Baguettes (wanna make spell check go crazy? try typing that sentence a few times and see what you get!)

The Bague and Baguette pattern pairs nicely with ScrapTherapy, The Versatile Nine Patch since scrappy 9-patch blocks adds to the cuteness factor! They are perfect to hold a skein or two of sock yarn, pencils and school supplies, or grocery store receipts (if you save that kinda thing).

The pattern and kits will be available at my next couple events.

If you are nearby, I hope you’ll come out to Rochester, NY (Genesee Valley Quilt Fest - Booth 506), Louisville, Kentucky (Busy Lady Quilt Shop), or Burlington, Vermont (Vermont Quilt Festival) to see the demos, get your hands on a book, and a kit!

Also, there are a few new items in the Hummingbird Highway online store. I’ve just added 10-panel packs of each of the 9-patch interfacing sizes - Mini, Middle, and Little Scrap Grid. The bulk packaging saves you a couple bucks, too. Nice!

And. . . I’ll also have a little display at the Rochester and Vermont shows for something new coming to the Hummingbird Highway. The details are still in the works, however the planning has started for the Tidy Fabric Club. Patterns, bonuses, fabric boards, bonuses, organizing and fabric-using tips, and--did I mention bonuses?--will soon be wrapped up into a monthly club from the ‘highway.’ If you want to be first to know the scoop, jump over to this page to add your name to the list. . .

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Watch the Birdie

I love it when you share your finished projects with me - made from one of my patterns. I try to include them in the 'Good Migrations' newsletter when I have them at the very bottom. But that means, sometimes, you have to scroll and scroll to see them!  And they don't always make it across to the blog post.

This week, I figured I’d try something a little different. Your projects ARE the post. Please keep sending photographs when you finish something from one of my books or patterns. My virtual assistant Tracy (she lives in Wisconsin, I live in Syracuse) keeps them organized for me. You can send photos here.

For example, Anne sent me a photo of her version of the bonus pattern from The Splendid Sampler block, "The Early Bird." When the block was first released as part of the original sew-along in December, I offered a bonus wall-hanging pattern. And here is Anne’s version of the wall-hanging. I just love it. And with all the robins now bobbing around in my backyard, it’s so timely! Just makes me smile.

Turns out the traditionally-pieced version of "The Early Bird" pattern didn’t quite fit in The Splendid Sampler book, so a paper-pieced version was used instead. If you’re not a paper-piecing fan (like me!) the original traditionally-pieced version of the pattern, as well as the bonus wall-hanging, is available here. I hope you try it out!

Anne, thanks for sharing! 

One of the coolest things about scrap quilt projects is that everyone has different scraps so everyone’s project made from the same pattern will be different! And you never know where you might find some inspiration . .

Chopped can be scrappy or can be made from a collection of fat quarters. Either way, it’s such a fun quilt, and much easier to make than you might think! It’s a stunner. Julie Ann’s version has a couple of ribbons! (Wow! Congratulations!!) I just love the way she created a diagonal pattern from each of the Kaffe Fassett prints she used. Love it! Thank so much for sharing!

As for me, I’m still putzing along with this project featuring some wonderful hummingbird prints. Some pretty standard stuff here, with a unique twist. I’m not quite ready to share yet, but maybe in a couple weeks I’ll have a pattern for you. Kits too. Something small and fun for summer. . .

Have any pictures of your Hummingbird Highway or ScrapThearpy projects, send them along. I'd love to see them! And share them, too!

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Busy, Busy!

A lot can happen in two weeks! Due to a three day software seminar, I wasn’t able to post to this blog last week. Seems like the time just flew by, but looking back, I surprised myself with the things I managed to accomplish in just two short weeks.

For starters . . . It’s done! Finished! Yay! I finished the hand quilting on the quilt I’ve been talking about forever. This one is from a pattern called Square Dance by Mountain Patchwork. I started it about a million years ago, and I took it with me on several road trips to work on in the hotel. It was all done by hand except for the final assembly. Finished the quilting, added the binding . . .

 . . . and it even has a label. Sad to say it doesn’t have a home yet. But it will . . .

I made a bunch of little 9-patch pins for BEA (the Book Expo America - a booksellers trade show at the Javitz Center in NYC). I won't be able to attend, but my publisher, The Taunton Press will be there and so will these pins. A little incentive for the industry book buyers never hurts, right?

I’ve been working on a couple of row quilt patterns for this year’s Row by Row Experience®. I’ve only worked with three shops this year - Buttons 'N' Bows in Houston, Quiltique, in Las Vegas, and Calico Gals (the home of Row by Row) here in Syracuse. I typically leave the sample-making to the shop, but it’s kinda tradition for me to make the sample for the Calico Gals row. Without giving too much away, here’s a sneaky peek of Calico Gals’ row - quilting in progress. It’s all done now and it’s off to St. Louis for it’s Quilt Market reveal with that ‘Gals.’

I’ve got a couple of vending events at the Genesee Valley Quilt Fest in Rochester, June 1-4, and the Vermont Quilt Festival in Essex Junction, Vermont, June 22-25. I never like the cardboard signs we’re supposed to use for the booth display, with the booth number on it. Instead, for the last several years, I’ve made booth numbers, (kinda like Mini Mug Mats, but with bigger parts) out of nine-patch blocks. I was missing a few numbers for my upcoming booth, and decided to complete my set. FYI, I'm booth 506 at the Genesee Valley Show, and booth 43 (Just inside the lobby entrance in the north buildling) at Vermont Quilt Festival (come see me!).

And you can’t vend at these shows without having fun stuff to sell. I’ve been preparing fabric and all kinds of goodies for some wildly fun kits to go with The Versatile Nine Patch book! You’ll have to come on out and pick up a few things . . .

And the quilt show certainly wouldn’t be any fun without an appearance from the colorful and ever-popular Grip Grass Ruler Stands! These are all packed up and ready to roll. . . But the box looks pretty full, I think I'll need a few more boxes!

And a little something new is on the sewing table. I spy  . . . hummingbird fabric in a fabulous new project . . . coming soon to a Good Migrations Newsletter issue (doncha love a good tease!)

Looking back on the last two weeks, I feel pretty productive. However, I have to say, that it didn't *feel* like I was being very productive when I was in the middle it all. I guess, sometimes it helps to take a step back and assess your progress sometimes. You might surprise yourself!

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Book It!

I used to include a calendar listing in my weekly Good Migrations newsletter, but I changed things up a little bit when I switched email providers several months ago. Plus, I’m not traveling nearly as much as I used to, but you wouldn’t guess that looking at my calendar for the next few weeks.

Here is a quick run-through of what's coming up on my calendar . . .

May 7, Sunday. Noon - 2:30 pm. Cafe Sewciety Quilts, Webster, NY. Conversation, quilts, and refreshments. Book signing. Call to make a reservation. 585-374-4852

June 1-4. Genesee Valley Quilt Fest. Gordon Field House, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY. Vending.

June 7. Busy Lady Quilt Shop, Mt. Washington, KY. Noon - 3 pm. Demos and book signing.

June 23-25. Vermont Quilt Festival. Essex Junction, VT. Vending.

August. Details pending. Kenai Peninsula Quilt Guild, Valley Quilters Guild, Log Cabin Quilters, Alaska.

September 13 and 14, Creekside Quilting, Arcade, NY. Lecture and workshop. Call Sandy for the scoop.

Looking ahead to 2018:

March 4-11, 2018 Eastern Caribbean Cruise! Contact Quilt Retreat at Sea to make your reservation. A new quilt project is being developed just for this trip!

April 13-15, 2018. Quilting in Vermont. Spring Mystery Project! Strong House Inn, Vergennes, VT. Three days of sewing a brand-new mystery quilt project with a Spring theme. Mary is ready (waiting by the phone, actually) to take your reservation! 802-877-3337

Make your summer plans and c'mon out and see me!

Happy Stitching!
Joan Ford

Thursday, April 27, 2017

See You Around

I know I keep coming back to this quilt. The blocks were hand stitched from a pattern and technique by Mountain Patchwork. The blocks have been my travel project for years, and only recently I finished the blocks, and assembled a quilt during a mini-retreat to Canada with my friend Brenda Miller.

I was all set to add a small border to the quilt, but Brenda suggested a much bigger border than I had originally planned. I acquiesced. And I do like the wide border on this quilt. I haven’t measured in a while, but I’m pretty sure the quilt qualifies as a generous lap quilt, if not a twin.

This week I completed a milestone, the blocks (all 20) are quilted, generally done in the ditch with a few quarter-inch and half-inch lines of quilting (all in bright blue thread).

Almost done right?

Except for that border. This 6” border goes on for miles and miles around this quilt!! And all that mileage needs to be quilted!

Because I’m probably a little bit crazy, I decided to break the border into three sections - the light green border is getting quilted 1/4” away from the seams (as well as in the ditch).

At this point, I’m ready to have this quilt done, so wasn’t feeling particularly creative when it came to deciding on a border quilting design for the larger blue border. Not to mention that the blue border was too big for any of the stencils I have.

So I improvised with two different stencils and a line of straight stitching separating them. Love the blue thread however (and I can’t believe I’m saying this because blue is one of my favorite quilting colors) I’m getting a little tired of the blue!! (Does this happen to you too?)

Enter red for the straight line of stitching, and bright green for the inner stencil pattern. Sticking with the blue thread for the outer pattern. Not sure if you can see, but the ropey egg and square are on the inside edge of the blue border and the scallops with diamonds are going on the outer edge of the border.

I can see this train heading for 'Disaster Station' based on two distinct possibilities. . . First, using stencils for borders can get interesting as you approach the corners. You have to plan ahead and unch the stencil a little bit one way or the other as you reach each corner - or the corner pattern doesn't match up. A disastrous corner experience could launch this nearly complete quilt into exile.

And second. This basket of in-progress handwork is starting to call my name somethin’ awful.

And third (I know I said two, but #3 kinda goes back to the original issue) did I mention there are miles and miles of borders around this thing??

In auto racing, a white flag means one more lap to go, but in just about everything else, a white flag means ‘I give up!’

Shaking my head. . . I see the white flag, and I hope that I make it to the checkered flag.

Happy Stitching! 
Joan Ford

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Good News Week

I’m gonna give it to you straight - I’ve had a crummy week.

We've all had them. Nothing *really* terrible happened, but things kinda started out a little bit in a funk and then just kept going downhill. Until the other day when I received a bit of news that made my heart very sad. Nothing earth-shattering or health-related - thank goodness, no one close to me is sick or injured.

It was one of those soul-crushing things that just happens - and it happened to me. I can’t share much more than that right now, but hopefully I’ll be able to share more details soon.

In the meantime, I have a lot of great things going on and I really need to get out of this funk. Do you know the feeling?

To escape from the mud, I’ve got a hankerin’ to do something positive and soul-lifting, but I need your help. Can't do this alone. I thought we all could benefit from a little good news, and I’m declaring that it’s Good News Week on the Hummingbird Highway!

Let’s have some fun with this

It’s this simple: Share some good news.

Share a photo of your child or grandchild in their Easter finery. Tell me a funny story about your pet. Show a picture of a beautiful plant in your garden. Tell me about the first hummingbird you saw this season. Make me laugh with a silly tale. You just finished a great book (be sure to share the title! -maybe it's The Versatile Nine Patch *wink!*)

Share something really big like the birth of a baby, or a grand vacation. Or a little miracle like a spring-time flower bud, or something as simple as the completion of a first quilt block.

Just share something happy.

I’ll start . . .

My good news is that I finally finished this quilt! No, it's not a pattern, just a favorite traditional block. I started it (at least five) years ago, and I worked on it a little bit here and a little bit there. A few months ago, I sandwiched it and started hand quilting it. It’s done. Quilted, bound (who binds a quilt with white fabric? Oi!), and labeled.  This makes me VERY happy!

Okay, now it’s your turn.

Share your Good News story with a comment on this blog.

Go over to the Hummingbird Highway Facebook page and write a post on my page. Pictures or text, either or both. Tag me, @Joan Ford. (make sure you get the right Joan Ford, there are a few of us out there!)

Is Instagram your thing? Post a photo to instagram and be sure to tag me @hbridhwy and use the hashtag #goodnewsweek

Don’t want to share publicly? That’s fine, send me your good news in an email. Click here to send a short good news note.

Let's have a good smile together! Feel free to share this post!

Happy Good News Week and
Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford