The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt

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!

New Year, New Calm

"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 kind of loved 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 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!

E xo

Giveaway Winner

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday and is starting the new year feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready for everything 2014 has in store. I spent a large portion of last year thinking and reflecting on what I truly want for my business and my life, but I'm still struggling to put it all into words.

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....

Congratulations, Devon! I'll ship out your prize this afternoon!

Thanks so much to everyone that entered the contest. I'm so happy you took the time to read through my Christmas posts — I loved hearing about your favourites and will definitely keep them in mind as I blog my way through 2014.