That's why it's very difficult for me to say goodbye. After four years, the time has come to put this design to bed. I have a few pre-printed totes hanging around that are now up for sale in my Etsy shop. I also have several navy totes left that can still be customized with the monogram of your choice. But after those sell, that will be it. Discontinued.
I really enjoyed screenprinting, but I feel like what I want to do with it is limited by my space. So I'm packing up my paint with the hopes that I can unpack it again in the not-too-distant future. You know, when we move to a beautiful new house with a huge sunlit studio in the backyard. Heh. Until then, indulge my sentimentality for a moment with a few photos, reminiscing on the end of a beginning.
As with any big project, it was tough to have the guts to get started, but once I did, I didn't want to stop! Complete one block and I immediately wanted to make three more. As you can see on my handy dandy chart there, I ended up making 6 this month. Woo! My goal was to make one a week, so I'm pretty happy with my progress. My strategy thus far has been to tackle all the easy ones first so I could get a hang of the process and figure out some of the time-saving tricks I could use. It's nice to turn to whenever I have a spare hour or so and need a quick productivity high. Haha!
#111 The Wrench (Needlework's quilt-along block of the month)
#31 Evening Star
My favourite so far, I think.
#6 Big Dipper
I love this one and it was so easy to make using the this quarter square triangle technique. I think I'm going to make a baby quilt entirely of these blocks.
Experimenting with dark colours. Not sure if I like it. Do you?
#20 Churn Dash
Pretty much identical to the wrench, so really easy to whip up when you have all the piece measurements already in your head.
It looks simple, but look closely and you'll notice each of those edges is on the bias. For my non-sewing readers, fabric cut on the bias has more give and stretch to it and thus can be finicky for accurate piecing. Grr. The overall size ended up being way off. This will be a redo.
Another blizzard? Hmph. Some mother, that Nature is, didn't even remember my birthday. Well, screw her. Let's celebrate! From now until March 21st (Dear Edna's anniversary) all ready-to-ship items are 30% off! Right now, that includes all but four aprons! And I intend to add to the sale as the month goes on, so stay posted. Nothing like a little retail therapy to cure the winter blues, right? That and birthday cake for breakfast. :)
Does this book look familiar? I added it to my crafty Christmas wish list this year. Santa didn't get the message, so I bought it for myself during Needlework's boxing week sale.
In 1922, The Farmer's Wife Magazine asked it's readers to submit letters answering the question, "If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?" and this book features 111 quilt blocks inspired by many of the winning letters. You can read more about it here.
Now, 111 different blocks is a mighty ambitious project, which I never intended to take on. I bought the book as a resource, thinking I would choose one or two blocks at a time for small quilts. But as more and more photos pop up online of beautiful blocks and completed quilts, I'm starting to feel the urge to take on the whole dang thing. I've never made a quilt for myself and this would certainly be one special enough to keep. Then Needlework announced that they are hosting a Farmer's Wife Quilt-Along this year! Hook line and sinker. They are doing one block a month, but I'm going to try to sneak in a few more. To put this challenge in perspective, to complete a queen-size quilt (111 blocks) in one year, I would have to make 9.25 blocks a month; a twin-size (83 blocks) would be 6.9 blocks a month. Haha! Yeah, this is a two- or three-year endeavour. Are you ready?
First step is to pick out my colours. As usual, I spent an inordinate amount of time on this. I intend to keep this quilt for myself, so first I thought of the colours that Mike and I tend to gravitate towards at home: grey, blue, green. Then I turned to the black hole that is Google Images and Pinterest. I loved all the multicoloured versions I saw, but stuck to my original plan, reinforced by Karyn's gorgeous blue and grey palette and Splendorfalls' blues and greens. So then I went to my stash and here is what I ended up with. I'm also flirting with the idea of pops of green, yellow or red. We'll see. I'm sure it will evolve a lot over time.
The first block that was chosen for January was the Friendship Star.
"If my daughter has truly found the right man in her farmer, she will have the best opportunity for ideal companionship. She can be his helpmate in every sense of the word, sharing his work, pleasures and problems, and justly earning a share of credit for his accomplishment." -- Mrs. J. M. V.
And here is my block!
I thought about hand piecing all of the blocks. What an amazing keepsake that would be, eh? But I gave up that idea after struggling with this one for two hours. Hopefully it will get easier (and quicker) with practice so I'll have more to show off in February. Wish me luck!
And by all means, if you're joining in the fun, let me know — we can be quilt-along buddies!
"So, how's business?" This is the question I get asked most often from everyone I meet, from acquaintances I run into on the street to family or friends I see regularly. I'm not sure if it's genuine interest or just a crutch in an awkward conversation, probably a bit of both, but I'm not here to talk about the reasons behind the question, but rather to get real about the answer.
In all honesty, 2013 was slow. Very slow. Sure, in the first few months of the year, my answer would have been "sooo busy", because I was preparing for the One of A Kind Show. And, yes, that experience was all kinds of crazy and interesting and fun, but I was expecting the aftermath to be entirely different than how it turned out. I was expecting a sizeable jump in sales and opportunities, but that couldn't have been farther from the truth.
Now here's the kicker — I loved every minute of it.
Slow sales usually hit me more personally than they should, but this time was different. Before Mikey J could compose his tried and true "think positive" speech, I had already put an end to the wallowing and chosen to look at the downtime as an opportunity, a chance to slow down and do some of the things I usually don't have time to do. So, I spent the summer training for a half marathon, teaching myself how to quilt, taking an intensive course on wholesale business, and breaking my 10-year hiatus from garment sewing. Oh and I took a 4-week vacation to Eastern Europe without a lick of guilt. Not bad. Living the dream, some might say. I might say.
I loved my new pace so much that I found myself rethinking and analyzing everything about how I run my business and my life for the last 6 months. Heavily influenced by Danielle Laporte's The Fire Starter Sessions, posts like this from Braid Creative, and an illuminating essay by Schirin R. Oeding, I realized that the underlying question I need to be asking myself is not how many new products I need to produce or how many figures I want to bring in, but how do I want to feel? The answer to that question became clearer and clearer as the year passed: serenity, peace, ease, calm.
I remember reading an exercise once that instructed you to think about someone you envy and, more particularly, why you envy that person. At the time, I couldn't really pinpoint anyone. But then one day last Fall it hit me. Obviously I'm not going to share with you the person I was thinking of, but I'll just say this, every time I see this woman, she just seems so put together, content and, above all, calm. There was a time when her presence would drive me into an aggressively jealous rage: Why can't I be more like her? What's her secret? After my blissful summer hiatus, I began thinking of this woman again and realized there was nothing holding me back from being every inch as calm and content as her. There's no secret. I just have to shift my perspective and my priorities. Be the calm you see in the world?
Obviously I know this is much easier said than done. I mean, how I'm going to stay calm while planning a wedding, I'm not so sure. But maybe that's not the point. Maybe the point is just that I'm going to try. You know how you crave vegetables when your body is low in nutrients? Perhaps this is the same thing — I'm craving calm because I need it now more than ever.
What does all this mean for Dear Edna? First off, I want to stress that Dear Edna isn't going anywhere. I still love sewing, love having a business, and love blogging. What I don't love is never feeling like enough and always pushing for something bigger that I, quite frankly, might not even want. Bigger isn't necessarily better. So, I'm letting all of that go. I'm scaling down, rather than up. I'm going back to my roots, to where Dear Edna started, with slower processes, limited product runs, and hopefully an overall more pleasurable and passionate experience for both me and you!
All that being said, I still have a lot of ambitious plans for Dear Edna in 2014, including a huge inventory purge, new aprons for both men and women, and hopefully some limited edition items like dressing gowns, pillows, and quilts! I plan on sewing a lot more personal projects this year too. It's going to be fun! Keep watching facebook, twitter and instagram to be the first in line when it all happens.
Thanks for listening!
In the meantime, let's get the year started on a lucky note for one of you, shall we? The winner of the Dear Edna holiday prize pack is....
Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! Once again, I'm in a state of utter disbelief today, not only that Christmas is here, but also that I survived another holiday retail season and another 12 Days of Christmas posts! Well, it seems to have become a bit of a tradition for me to offer a big giveaway at the end, and you'll be happy to hear I have no intentions of breaking with that tradition this year. I just love doing it -- not only is it a great way to end the series, but it's also my way of thanking you for all of the support you've given me throughout the year. Plus, what's Christmas without presents?
This year's winner will win not one, not two, but all three prizes you see here: a set of wine bags, a reversible tea cosy and a half apron! You'll be all set for hostess gifts next year — haha!
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post letting me know which of my 12 Days of Christmas posts you enjoyed the most. Score extra entries by sharing this contest on facebook or twitter. Contest is open to all and closes when the ball drops, December 31st at midnight.
Good luck and MERRY CHRISTMAS!