Wednesday, 29 May 2013

End of a Class

This evening marks the end of the Beginner's Quilting Class that I've been teaching for the last 6-weeks.  The ladies taking the class have all been excellent, and I have truly enjoyed getting to know them a bit.  I hope to run a similar class again in the fall, probably with a slightly different pattern so that if anyone who took the class this spring wants to take it again, maybe with a friend, they aren't making the exact same project and can still learn something new.

It has been a very hectic few weeks, and at times my organizational skills have not been what they should be--or even anywhere near where they usually are!  However, it is still full-steam ahead for the SS Desirae.  Balanced Needles Knitting and Quilting will be at the Caswell Arts Festival "Art in the Park" on June 9, and there are a few projects that need to be finished up before so they will be ready before the day of the sale.  One of which is finding someone to watch the wee munchkin for the day as R is studying up for final exams he's writing during the week after.  Any takers?  He's really cute, and loves to play in the dirt :)

We've also been planning out our yard.  It is currently a dirt farm, which is great for the above mentioned munchkin but not so great for relaxing outside.  We seem to get so few months (or weeks) of summer, but if there is one thing people from Saskatchewan like to do it's enjoy the outdoors!  I'm not much of a gardener, but I'd like to put together a rock/perennial garden space.  I've got a few things growing in pots on the front porch, and should probably take the time to get them into the ground sooner rather than later.  If not into the ground, then at least transplant some of them into bigger pots.  The landscaper who came by last evening recommended not putting the garden in this year if we're putting new turf in as it will likely be flooded with the amount of watering that new grass needs to get established.  Anyone have any experience with this?  Good advice, bad advice??  The garden space is around the fire hydrant on the front corner of our lot, which is also where the lawn should theoretically "drain" to.

I think that's everything I have time to share right now... I really should be working in my studio, but it is so nice out!  I'm off for now.


Friday, 24 May 2013

Happy Friday

We're helping some friends move this afternoon, so a big shout out THANK YOU! To my mom for picking up the kiddo at the end of the day today.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Mistakes Made...Tutorial in the Works!

In a world full of great online tutorials on paper piecing, I couldn't find one that fit well with the Lemoyne Star that is part of the quilt class I'm currently teaching.  So I thought I'd just do written instructions on paper piecing and demo the method to the class.

Mistake Number 1:  I didn't follow my own cutting instructions for the pattern, and therefore was giving a set of confusing "corrections" to the handout as I was doing the demo.

Lesson:  RTFQx2!  (Read the full question twice)  Or in this case, read the cutting instructions, read them again, then cut the fabric, organize the work space and then start to sew.  Better yet, do the step-by-step demo pieces the night/weekend before so you're not on the spot!

Mistake Number 2:  Once we sorted out that the only actual error in the pattern instructions was indeed my beautifully hand-written fabric key had two of the fabrics switched, I promptly sewed my first two pieces together "backwards" (meanign that once they were flipped the seam was on the opposite side of the shape than intended).  Fortunately, I am great at frog stitching (rrrrip-it, rrrip-it...).

Lesson:  Build at least one demo block according to the instructions BEFORE photocopying and teaching the method.  This one has been a hard lesson to learn as almost every week there have been some "modifications," aka corrections, that have needed to be done to the fabric cutting instructions.  GRRR...

On the plus side, I smartened up and started to take pictures of the steps for the block while the students were working on theirs.  I'm putting together my own little tutorial, and should have it posted by the end of the month :)

Until next time,

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

This Week's Inspiration

I have been reading Carrie Green and the rest of the Female Entrepreneur Association and was truly inspired by the quote of the month for May (sorry, uncropped screen shot):

May is a month of change for me.  Which also means a work in progress.

I'm transitioning from teaching at the business college to being a Financial Advisor with Sun Life.  The career change decision came after a lot of thought and prayer for what would be best for our family.  I am moving into a role that allows the total control and flexibility I've dreamed of having for a while and should allow me to be more involved with Ian during the week.

Tomorrow night also marks the half-way point for the "Intro to Quilting" class I'm teaching, which is going very well.  I spoke a bit last week about the upcoming saskatoonquilts 2013 quilt show in October, and encouraged everyone to enter their finished quilts.  I think most of the class is at least considering my "challenge" to them. 

This weekend is the SQG Spring Retreat, and I'm looking forward to taking Saturday to finish up some projects on my "free days."  There were not enough registrants for the "Bargello for Everyone" class I was offering to teach, but that's okay too because it has been a very busy few weeks and I think I need this as a true retreat.

Until next time,

Friday, 26 April 2013

New Starts

The "Intro to Quilting" class I've been looking forward to started this week, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm glad the first few hours are over. Not that the ladies taking the class aren't amazing, but there's always something a little nerve wracking about the first day of class.

No matter how well I know the material, how passionate I am about the subject, or how many students there are, I get tense and start talking way too fast. I think back to the very first class I can remember teaching: I was in my 5th year of Air Cadets and had to teach a class on (ironically enough) Instructional Techniques. I think I scripted every sentence down to when I should breathe, in fact there were side notes on the lesson plan that read "breathe" and "smile." I remember holding the page with both hands shaking so much I couldn't even read what I had written. Somehow we got through the 20-minutes, and I swore off teaching as a profession.

Somewhere over the next four years my mind was changed and I moved to Edmonton to complete my Bacc. en Education at Campus Saint-Jean (the Francophone campus of the University of Alberta).  With lofty ideas of changing the world one class at a time.  Statistically speaking, I shouldn't really be surprised that after a year of teaching High School I was looking for something else, but it was a bit dissapointing. 

I've been teaching at a private business college for the last three years, and have really enjoyed it.  But it's time to move on again to a career that better suits my family's changing needs.  I'll have more details to share next week about that--what I can say is that it will allow me the flexibility to be the kind of mom I want to be, and to take my role in Balanced Needles Knitting & Quilting to the next level while still offering challenging work with a lot of reward.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

What if...

I was having a very geeky moment this morning, so I apologise in advance to any readers who are not Doctor Who fans, you might not get some of what I'm talking about today.

"Oh the weather outside is frightful..." indeed, it is April 11 and this is the road report for the highway I drive every morning:

Typically by this time of year we're expecting high in the low teens (Celsius), and this year we've been lucky if we're above zero.

Then I had a thought:  What if I've had an encounter with The Silence, and the Doctor has rescued me but we've gone back in time and it actually is November.  The calendar is wrong because the crack in Amy Pond's wall has gotten bigger and the relationship between space and time is even more fragile than before? 

If you're still reading, you've probably caught up to where my next thought went:  Impossible, if I had an encounter with The Silence, I wouldn't remember.  And there would be a lot more weirdness going on, and probably some creepy background music.  So instead of searching around calling out "Doctor?  Doctor?" I finished getting ready for work, bundled Ian up and ventured out into the snow.

Maybe it's because I'm "getting old," or because it seems my memory has been somehow distorted after having Ian, but I don't really remember having a lot of imaginary friends growing up.  Yet somehow this morning I almost wanted to be living in the fantasy world of one of my favourite TV shows.  I think it has to do with this lingering winter weather.  Next week marks our 6th month with snow on the ground!  But never fear, I have a lot of spring inspired fabrics in my stash, and even if the weather is not cooperating I can add some colour to our home.

Until next time...

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Today's Project

Just a quick note today. I'm about half-way through this Bargello style top. First it will be a sample for my class, then it will be going to one of Ian's girlfriends. The working title is "Norah's Quilt." I know, not very creative, but I'm open to suggestions.
Until we meet again,

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter!

My appologies to everyone, I may have bitten off a little more than I expected in the past few weeks and haven't been posting as regularly because of it. A little ironic given the subject of my last post, but when "something's gotta give" I'd rather it be my online life than my "real" life.
Easter is a time to celebrate new life, and many years in Saskatchewan it also means signs of spring. I thought this year might be an exception to that, but temperatures have been on the plus side the past few afternoons, so the snow is melting and the streets are flowing with mud and tiny ice flows.  It is rather amazing to watch as every year we cycle through the seasons.
I've been working on more samples for the Bargello class I'm teaching at the Saskatoon Quilters' Guild Spring Retreat, and will post more pictures as I finish them up. I also need to finalize the pattern for the Learn to Quilt class I'm teaching through the community recreation office in the latter part of April.
And while it's a bit late in the day Joyeux Poisson d' Avril too!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Blog Hop Winner

Sorry for the delay everyone.  I did the draw on Friday using a random number generator and then promptly got distracted and forgot to post the winner.

Drumroll please...Michell K is our winner!  I have replied to your comment on the original post asking for your mailing information.  I'd love to see what you do with the fabric :)

Have a safe and happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!


Friday, 15 March 2013

How Do We Do It?

I've been asked a few times recently "how do you do it?" mostly with a look of wonder/puzzlement on the face of the individual asking.  The simple answer would be that I don't do it all, my kitchen is usually a mess, the bathrooms are in need of a major scrub (spot cleaning happens more regularly), and the clean laundry waiting to be folded and put away is almost a bigger pile than the laundry needing to be cleaned.

I believe we all work well under different levels of stress, and that the type of stress can also factor in.  "Good" stress for me might be "bad" stress for someone else, though there are probably a few universal "bad" stresses out there.

Good stresses in my life (in no particular order), just a few samples:
  • my son's somewhat constant desire to be the centre of attention.  He's just over 20 months.  It's how he shows his love for us, or atleast that's what I choose to believe. 
  • piles of clean laundry--I may dislike "laundry diving," but it means that at some point I had time to do a few loads of laundry while accomplishing other tasks.  This means I will probably be able to "multitask" again in the near future and continue to have clean clothes (note:  I tend to only buy clothes that I can machine wash and dry or hang to dry, and that do not require a lot of pressing to look good).
  • balancing a busy schedule.  I enjoy being involved in the organizations and informal groups I'm involved in and tend to make time for them at least once a month.  I have a desire to be part of these communities, and recognize that over time "new" communities will become part of my calendar--especially as Ian gets older. 
Bad stresses (not always present, but too much at a time results in very little being accomplished):
  • loosing my day planner.  I may not always look at it, but I need to know where it is.  I lost one a few years ago that had a lot of important information in it. It caused me a lot of stress, mostly because I had no idea where I had left it.  So I bought a new one, which I misplaced last month temporarly.  This time I went strait to the office supply store and bought a simple replacement before I really even had time to panic.
  • not finding what I'm looking for.  I can hear my mom's voice already (sorry mom) saying "if you put things in the same place all the time they won't be lost so easily."  In reality, I've gotten a lot better at this--keys go in the bowl, if they are not in my jacket pocket, and these stresses are reducing as a result.
  • "day job" stress--unfortuntately a bit of a "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" situation.  Every work situation will have a bit of stress, I don't know of any business that doesn't stress their employees out every now and then.  But it's how we choose to handle the stress that makes the difference.  We either choose to let it roll off and do our best to ignore whatever the issues are that cause the stress (sometimes easier said than done), we can focus on the negative so much that it affects our lives outside of work (sometimes the "easy" thing to do), or we can carefully pick our battles and decide which parts of work are okay to deal with, and which ones are deal breakers--which means deciding at which point a deal breaker means looking for a new job.
I think Tiffany Han (life coach, blogger, etc.) put it well today with her Friday Confession:  I have doubts (click to read--CAUTION LANGUAGE WARNING).

So "how do (I) do it?" I'm not sure.  Would I do it all again?  Heck Yes!


Monday, 11 March 2013

Just a Peck

While most Sunday mornings find me worshiping from the pews of the cathedral we attend, yesterday morning was spent at the sewing machine.  Intermixed with smiles as I listened to my hubby and son run around and play upstairs were prayers of thanks for the gifts of family, friends and the inspirations of the world around me.  Then came the prayers of "please Lord, not another thread break" and "Lord give me patience to not rush this project".  I was promptly reminded to be very careful when praying for patience, as it often comes with times of trying that "newly acquired" patience (read:  more thread breaks, a burr on the brand-new sewing needle, empty bobbins and more lint packed into the feed-dogs than I thought could fit in that space). 

However, I was able to finish up the sample quilt for my "Bargello for Everyone" class being offered at the Saskatoon Quilters' Guild Spring Retreat.  My husband was rather amazed at how quickly this quilt came together and went from:

To this:

Then I finished doing this:

And last, but not least:  "Just a Peck" (c) Balanced Needles Knitting & Quilting

The details are not clear, but it was machine quilted using an all-over large "stipple-like" pattern (my stippling skills are still a work in progress).

While finishing up the quilting and binding it occured to me that this would become the smaller version of a charity pattern I have been working on and a silent prayer of thanks for the friendship of the family that inspired this pattern was said.  I will be finishing up the written instructions for this pattern and the full-size version over the next week.  Which means I will be looking for a few pattern testers.  If you're interested, please e-mail me and I will be in touch shortly.

Until next time,

Friday, 8 March 2013

Quilter's Blog Hop Party!

Quilter's Blog Hop Party with Give-AwaysWelcome quilters, fabric-addicts, and friends.

I'm very excited to be participating in this week's Blog Hop Party and hope you visit everyone's blogs!  Click on the picture to see the list of participants in this year's party.

This is the first year I am participating with a Give-Away: a Batik charm pack could be yours! 

There are two ways to enter, with up-to two entries available per person:

1.  Follow this blog using the "join this site" button on the right side of the page, and leave a comment on this post saying that you have.  This will get you one entry.

2.  "Like" my Facebook page Balanced Needles Knitting & Quilting, and leave a comment on this post saying that you have.  This will also get you one entry.

The draw will be made at 12 noon (CST) on March 15.  The winner will be announced in a new post that day, and will be asked to contact me with mailing details at that time.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Happy Family Day!

First off... 

If you didn't see it on the Balanced Needles Knitting & Quilting Facebook page, we didn't make the Top 10 for the MOMpreneur Award of Excellence 2013.  However, the experience was still amazing, and we are so grateful for all the great support shown by everyone.  Best wishes to all of the business women who participated in this year's competition.

And now for something completely different...

Happy belated Valentine's Day too. I'm so glad it's Friday, and that this is the Family Day long weekend, which means next week is February break!

I realize that not everyone gets the week off, I'm just lucky to work in an industry that does take the break.  The discussion around the staff room this morning was all about how many weeks until the next break, which really made me wonder if it has been an unusually busy six-week stint since we came back from Christmas, or if we're all just tired of winter and looking forward to the short break at Easter means we're looking forward to spring?

Plans around our household for the upcoming week include a lot of studying, Russ is working on his Masters and is taking a few distance classes from University of Tasmania, and sewing, I need to finish my sample quilt(s) for the "Bargello for Everyone" class I'm teaching at the Saskatoon Quilters' Guild Inc. Spring Retreat (May 10-12, 2013).  Unfortunately, this means that our 'tit nounours will still need to go to daycare for part of the week, but we should get in some good "mommy and me" time in later in the week.

Busy times, but all for the greater good.  Right?

Until next time,

Monday, 4 February 2013

And now we wait...

The voting period of the MOMpreneur Award of Excellence 2013 closed on January 31, and I'm beginning to realize that every time I wanted something as a kid and my parents said "ask again later" may have helped me to get through the next few days.  Every time I check the website, which has been 5 times this morning (and I'm at work) the front page looks like this:

So, what started on Friday as every hour or so of me going back to the site to "ask again later" now has me resigned to waiting until today before I check again.  Nothing so far...

I don't know if no news is good news, but I'm choosing to believe it could be in this case.  I'm not holding my breath, but a Top 10 finish would be amazing! 

On another note, my brother and sister-in-law head back to Australia this week.  I'm excited for them, that they are embarking on the next chapter in their life together.  I'm nervous that Ian might suddenly realize they are gone when he goes looking for them and their space is empty, anyone with suggestions on how to explain this to a toddler who just started to say "un-da" (which we think means Uncle Derk)?  I know that everything will work out in the end, it has been a blessing to have them living with us these past few months and now I have a reason to collect the ill-fated penny:  save 'em for a trip Down Under!

Next weekend I hope to get the basement space re-organized and back in use as my sewing studio.  Which may also mean getting some partial walls in place to keep the wee one out of the utility room, as the current state allows for free movement from one to the other "through" the wall.  I'm hoping that with a little training on which parts of the studio are "nos," that Ian will be able to enjoy spending time downstairs with me while I finish the prep work on the quilts I need for the Saskatoon Quilters' Guild Spring Retreat class I'm teaching in May.  Could be an interesting lesson for both of us.

Until next time,

Thursday, 24 January 2013

MOMpreneur Award of Excellence--Last Week!

We're in the home-stretch for the voting period in the contest.  Clicking on the picture below will take you to our nomination page:

It has been an interesting journey so far, and we stand a really good chance of being in the top 10 at the end of the voting period.  Up until a few weeks ago it appeared that our location on the site was moving around based on how we were doing in the contest, then everyone stopped moving.  The response from the contest organizers was that to keep things fair, no one should know who was in which position until after the voting was done.  Seems fair enough, though slightly confusing based on what had been happening earlier.

Anyway, after the voting period is done at midnight EST on January 31, we sit back with fingers crossed that the phone rings with an invitation to the conference in March--which is part of the Grand Prize--or that somethign equally wonderful arrives in the mail, indicating a secondary prize for us!

Things I am learning from this contest:
  • I really need to learn more about how to use social media better,
  • Should have joined the "twitterverse" much earlier in the game, though I am having a riot following some of my favourite people and seeing the inspiring pictures that some have posted,
  • There are a lot more people who will come out of the woodwork as potential supporters (and hopefully future customers) when you're involved in something like this, if I haven't said Thank You to you directly:  THANK YOU!
Once everything is settled, I think I'm going to need to lock myself in the basement for a few days with my sewing machine and fabric stash.  New ideas keep popping into my head, and the random papers with them sketched need to be collected and organized.  Please send snacks...


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Creativity and the Life-Work Balance

I think I may have set a pretty lofty goal for myself with the title of this post.  Let me be clear, I don't proclaim to be an expert on life-work balance, or even to be the most creative person in the world.  However, I like to think I'm getting better at the balancing act and my sketch pad (read:  the random papers floating around my studio, my desk at work, and in my bookbag) would indicate that my creativity is still flowing.

The last few months have been a bit of a whirl-wind experience.  We moved into our beautiful new home, and it really did feel like home right from the beginning, and shortly after welcomed my brother and sister-in-law to live with us.  While I'm looking forward to reclaiming a larger studio space in a few short weeks, I know our "roomates" will be missed--especially by the mischievious toddler who smiles and calls after them every time they cross his path.  The lightbulb moment occured in the middle of the night a few days ago that I need to get producing more in my studio so that we can save up for a trip to visit the Land Down Under--preferably before Ian hits school age--to visit his favourite Uncle Derk and favourite Auntie Ksashar (see what I did there, still room for favourite Auntie Teaghan). 

I digress, and seem to be a bit off-topic...

New opportunities are always on the horizon, and we've been looking at how to market our products in the most effective way.  Looking at local shops and other vendors' markets.  Then I came across a few posts on Marketing Creativity that really got the gears turning on how to approach the new year, and how to Build a Better Creative Business:

I hope this can be helpful to anyone else looking for ways to improve on their business.


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Welcome 2013

Happy New Year to everyone.  I hope you were able to enjoy time with friends and family over the last few weeks, and if you celebrate in Ukranian then "Z Rizdvom Khrystovym !"

2013 is shaping up to be a great year full of exciting challenges.  The first challenge is getting Balanced Needles Knitting & Quilting back in the Top 10 of the MOMpreneur Award of Excellence.  At the end of the voting period, January 31, the judges will decide this year's winner from the Top 10 finalists.  Please share the contest with everyone you know, and thank you in advance for your continued support.

I've been pondering over designs for awhile, and am almost ready to go from paper sketch to EQ7 pattern for the charity quilt I'm working on in support of the Huntington Society of Canada.  The initial quilt will be done using a custom fabric featuring the Hunting Society's amaryllis logo, and both the pattern and fabric will be available for sale once everything is finalized.  Proceeds from the pattern sales will go to the Huntington Society of Canada.

I've also been working on finishing up two mystery quilts.  Both were designed and organized by Heather Spence, and were organized in support of two worthy causes:  1) a family going through cancer treatments with one of their young sons, and 2) Gospel for Asia's sewing machine projects to provide a source of income for women in Asia and their families.  My thoughts on getting involved with both "I may not be able to change the world, but I can help impact the lives of a few people."

I'm still sorting through the bag of tartan remnants that arrived just before Christmas.  It's proving very interesting to see what I will have available for customers to choose from, though it is a bit of a daunting task to determine which tartan each of them is.

Until next time,