Category Archives: Blog

Blog

Catching Up

Aaaaahhhhh.  It’s so good to be back.  It has been so long since I’ve been able to be here and chat with all of you.  Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you and saying “Ha!  You thought you had a plan?  Here’s where you’re going now . . . ”  I know that each of you can completely relate.  So let me catch you up:

  • Yesterday David turned 45.  We celebrated with a yummy Old Fashioned Devil’s Food cake and Fluffy Chocolate frosting from The Cake Doctor by Anne Byrne (Jamie Lee Curtis’ favorite cookbook).  David said it was the best birthday cake he’s ever had!  Then we enjoyed a couple’s dinner out at Dahlonega’s Crimson Moon and listened to Tom and Julie sing the night away.

  • My younger son turned 10.  I cannot tell you how excited he is to be in the double digits.  He’s also wearing glasses now, and has become a voracious reader.  He’s so committed to reading he carries a flashlight in the car so he can read in the dark on the way to school.

  • My older son is carrying the 60-lb bass drum in marching band, and is needing chiropractic visits because of it.  As much as we love seeing him march and enjoy attending the high school football games, I will be glad when he’s done carrying that albatross.  He’s now in the habit of drumming on anything that doesn’t move.  A habit only a mother can love.

  • I taught a Color Mastery workshop to 70 of the  most wonderful ladies in the Crazy Quilter’s guild in Chattanooga.  Much of the credit for huge attendance goes to Sandi, one of my faithful and true quilt testers, who visited area guilds and put out the word that I was coming.  The guild made the workshop super affordable and even included a box lunch.  I dreamed the night before the workshop that we never got to the first exercise of three in the class because of the large group – a bit of a nightmare, really.  In reality?  I was truly amazed at how well everyone understood and applied the concepts of color in such a large class, and Sandi heard rave reviews all day.  Color is not an easy subject to teach, and it’s a challenge to do it with such a large group, but it was a perfect day for both teacher and students.

  • Took a long overdue “me” day and sewed to my heart’s content, making the reversible Market Bag from Tanya Whelan, two Wonder Wallets from LazyGirl Joan Hawley, and a purse organizer insert in anticipation of Joan’s new Suzi pattern.  I used fabric from Michael Miller and Westminster from Karen William’s new quilt shop in Jasper, Quilt Shop on Main.  I used one of the Wonder Wallets as a business card holder and even got a compliment on it from a guy at a social media conference I attended last weekend.  Wow.

  • I started a new business developing and implementing social media campaigns for small to mid-size businesses.  I’ve been so successful with social media in promoting Color Mastery that I’m helping fellow entrepreneurs do the same with their terrific products and services.  I am quite selective about my clients, and  partner only with people whom I believe in and I know put their clients first.

What does all this mean for my quilting, writing, and teaching?  It’s always my first love, but I’ll have somewhat less time to devote to it.  I won’t be posting on this blog quite as much, but you will find me on Facebook and Twitter every day, so catch me there at my personal page, Color Mastery page, or Willow Ridge Media page.

I will continue to write and teach, but will be approaching it all in a way unseen in our industry before.  I was a leader in publishing with many of the ways I reached out to my readers, being the first in the quilting world to do a blog tour, give away a chapter of a book, and have a YouTube channel.  I’m so excited about the new roads I’ll be forging in our industry, and all I can say is, “fasten your seat belts ’cause it’s gonna be a fun roller coaster of a ride!”

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Color Mastery Pincushion

I’m humbled and thrilled at the response from quilters and reviewers to Color Mastery.  I’m giving lectures and workshops, producing videos on color, and building relationships with quilters across the globe on my blog, email newsletter, Twitter, and Facebook.

I’m starting to work on my next book, talking to shop owners, industry experts, and fabric companies.  But the opinion that really counts?  Yours.  Quilters.  Real, honest-to-goodness, everyday quilters that make baby, bed, wall, memory, and every other kind of quilt.  I’m here to serve you.  Could you take a moment to help me?

I need to know what you look for and need in a quilting book.  I have my own ideas from my teaching, but I need your opinion.  As a small independent publisher, I must be wise in what I publish so I don’t enter into a subject over-published or compete with the big guys who have large advertising budgets.  Quilting books seem to have exploded lately, and I want to make sure I serve an area that needs it.  It’s what I did with Color Mastery:  saw a need and filled it.

And in gratitude for your time and response, I’m sending you a pincushion pattern immediately after you take the survey.  My way of saying thanks.

Click here to take the survey.  And keep an eye out for some really exciting content upcoming here at Quilts & Creativity.  2010 will be a super-creative year for all of us!

Beautiful Mondays

Amicalola Falls on a Sunny, Fall day

Most people dread Mondays.  After all, they mean back to work, away from home and family.  And rainy Mondays are the worst – as it’s doing here in Georgia today (the photo is from Amicalola Falls on a sunnier day).

I’m deciding on a different outlook.  Mondays present a great day of opportunity.  Monday is a day to start fresh, with an entire week of possibilities ahead.  I can’t wait to see what this week brings.  I’m looking forward to new quilt design ideas, fun business opportunities, friendships, and time with my family during Fall break.

What opportunities await you this Monday?

Okay, here’s one:  I produced a new video on fall’s two hottest colors this season, and it’s over at my Color Mastery blog.  Check it out.  Who knows what possibilities await in your stash or the quilt shop?

Quilters Who Twitter

I have a new tool in my blog’s sidebar:  a Twitter widget.  I’m now on Twitter, which is a way of following what your friends are doing.  It’s a micro-blog, of sorts.  I’m still figuring it all out and exactly my strategy for using it.  Looks like fun – a way to keep in touch in your “virtual” community.

So tell me, do you Twitter?  Have you thought about it?  Here’s a fantastic video explaining Twitter from the folks at Common Craft, who do a great job of making the complicated seem simple:

You can follow me on Twitter by looking at my sidebar or going to Twitter and click on Follow.

Quilt Project Runway: Katie Pasquini Masopust

Katie Pasquini Masopust has a new book on creative quilt design called Design Explorations for the Creative Quilter: Easy-to-Follow Lessons for Dynamic Art Quilts. All about taking inspiration from photos and artwork and using them as a source for your quilts. Katie professes not be good at drawing realistically, so she takes her photographs and sketches and turns them into abstract art.  How’s that for turning a challenge into an opportunity?

Also learned that Katie machine quilts her quilts in sections, Marti Michell-style: Machine Quilting in Sections. Her art quilts aren’t that large by most quilting standards, but she says it makes quilting much easier.

I have Katie’s previous book, Color and Composition for the Creative Quilter: Improve Any Quilt with Easy-to-Follow Lessons and enjoyed the quilts and the lessons in the book.  Even though I didn’t want to make her quilts, I did learn from the exercises.  That’s what I believe the best quilting books do:  teach you how to improve the quilts you want to make, not how to make someone else’s quilt.   While the Fall Quilt Market 2008 Schoolhouse session I attended was short, Katie showed impressive innovation, humor and accessibility.  She doesn’t get so serious about her art quilts that she forgets to have fun with them and her students.

Cool Tools for Your Blog

I’ve got an article in the upcoming issue of Professional Quilter magazine called Developing Your Blog as a Marketing Tool. I love blogging. I get to write daily posts that let readers know a little about me and my work and connect with people not only in my own community, but across the globe. However, developing a blog can be frustrating. There is no how-to manual on how to do it, and help is often scattered.

Current issue of Professional Quilter

So, I read lots of other blogs and learn from them. I especially enjoy educator blogs. Teachers are angels who devote their time to our precious babes, and teachers’ blogs are fantastic. I used to homeschool my kids and I would have loved to have known about the blogging world back then.

Here are two of my favorite teacher blogs, not only for their subject matter, but because of how much they have taught me about blogging:

Cool Cat Teacher is a middle school teacher in the tiny town of Camilla, GA. She is a techno wiz and explains a lot of the blogging world and the web. If you have kids, don’t miss her post on 11 Steps for Online Supervision of Your Child. I have learned enormously from her blog and look forward to her posts.

Cogs for Blogs is a brand new blog but beautiful in its simplicity. I wish it had been around when I began blogging, because in one place, Lenva has collected instructions for many of the tools I offer on my blog that took me months of searching for how to do them right. What kinds of stuff? Linking to my email, doing a Slideshare, changing your blog header, along with others. It’s a site targeted toward teachers, but don’t let that stop you. You can learn from it as well.

So, watch for my article, and in the meantime, trick out your own blog.

I’m On Mary Lou’s Blogroll!

Mary Lou and Cherries Too Blog

I feel like I’ve arrived. Mary Lou Weidman has added me to her blogroll. Wow. I’m so honored. Mary Lou is one of my all-time favorite quilters, not only for her courageous use of bold colors, but also for her gracious and optimistic attitude.

I have all of Mary Lou’s books, and I’ll be adding her newest to my library as soon as it comes out. Mary Lou has a fabulous website with all kinds of eye candy, and her blog is as inspirational and cheery as she is.

Mary Lou is visiting my guild, the East Cobb Quilter’s Guild, in August, and you can be sure I’ll be in her class. Who would want to miss just being around someone so fun who creates such original and whimsical quilts?

Getting Credit for Your Quilts & Images

Georgia Landmarks quilt @ Buisson Center

I’ve noticed on my blog statistics that I get the most traffic from images of my quilts on the major search engines. I know that people are downloading these, even if my art is copyrighted. It happens.

So how you do make sure you get credit for not just the image but for the art itself? Title your photograph with the name of the artwork and your name. The photo accompanying this blog is titled with both the name of the quilt and my name, so any sneaky downloads will reference back to me.

Thanks to Alyson of ArtBizBlog and Brian at ArtStudies for this tip.

Display Quilts & Creativity as a Widget on Your Blog

I learned from Beneath the Cover of Widgetbox and their slick tool called a Blidget: you turn your blog into a widget that displays an image from your blog along with your latest headlines. You can see the blidget in my sidebar, below the visitor’s map. What a great way to spread the word about quilting and creativity. If you’d like to include Quilts & Creativity in your sidebar, click on the button below or go to WidgetBox:

Sweet Georgia Blogs

Blogs bring the world to my laptop, but I also enjoy the local ones. I’m a regular reader of Georgia on My Mind, which features a weekly Georgia Blog Carnival, and this week it’s hosted by Marketing Through the Clutter. If you’re a Georgia Peach (international readers – it’s our state fruit), or just strive to be one, head on over and check it out. You get a great feel for what’s going on in this wonderfully diverse and culturally rich state.

Blurry Blog Header Blues

After months of attempting to figure out what was wrong with my blurry blog header image, Judy Perez of Painted Threads pointed me in the right direction. I had searched for the answer online extensively, and no one had ever written about this, so I’m doing it now.

Supplying your own blog image header requires that you crop your image to the correct size of your blog header. In my case, that was 950×200 pixels. I cropped image after image in Photoshop Elements, only to have the image become horribly blurry. I tried to improve the resolution, to sharpen it, and nothing worked.

Here’s the secret: You can’t use an image that was photographed at too low a resolution in the first place. You must take a photo intended for a blog header at a higher resolution than normal, since the pixel width required for a blog header image is wider. My photos taken at the 3:2 resolution setting didn’t have enough pixels to show the detail necessary when I cropped them. So I changed the setting on my camera to use a higher image size (5M) which contains a higher number of pixels. I could then crop the image and the detail was much better, with no more blur.

Note to Mac users: I use iPhoto to upload my photos, as I find it infinitely simpler than Photoshop Elements, but iPhoto does something to the image size to make it smaller so it can easily display large numbers of photos. When I open the image in Photoshop Elements, it says the photo is only 72dpi. I double the resolution, to 144, which improves it greatly and allows me to crop the image with no blur. There may be a slicker way to do this, but this worked for me and hopefully it will help you too.

Thank You

Thanks!

Yesterday when I picked up my son from school, he asked me a question that came directly to the point: “Did you have a bad blog day?” It must have shown. Yes, in fact, I did have a terrible blog day. But it got much better, and the results are on this page.

I owe a big thank you to Judy Perez at Painted Threads who came to my rescue. I have for months been trying to improve the quality of the photos you see in my blog header. No matter what I did, they were blurry, even when the original photo itself was crystal clear. I subscribe to Judy’s blog and admired her blog header, so I asked for her help, which she graciously offered. And now I have a nice, sharp, blog header photo, and can thank Judy for it. She was a lifesaver!

I’ve been keeping a blog now for over a year, since October of last year. I’ve found it to be an extremely rewarding endeavor. I’ve been able to share and connect with quilters worldwide, which I could never have imagined when I began blogging.

I’ve also found developing a blog to be extremely challenging. I love technology, as I was a Computer Science minor in college, and made my living being a technical writer and courseware developer. I have seven published books on software applications, several of which won prestigious awards. I lived and breathed hi-tech. Since having children and staying home to raise them, the hi-tech world has changed at an even faster pace, and I struggle to keep up with it and my busy family life. Blogs were a new development, and I was fascinated at the ability to connect with so many other like-minded quilters and artists, especially since I live in a remote area. I was excited to embark on the blogging adventure allowing me to combine my writing, hi-tech skills, art and quilting. One year later, I’m bowled over that people as far away as South Korea, Brazil, Japan, and Israel read this blog.

I’ve learned so much from other bloggers, about quilting, blogging, and art. It’s a generous community that puts in so much time into what really amounts to a labor of love.

Welcome E-Mail Subscribers!

Excitement!

Maybe it’s not quite that exciting.  But – I’ve added the option of subscribing to my blog via e-mail!  All you  need to do is click the button in the sidebar at left.  You’ll receive my latest postings, photos and all.  You can even comment on the post, email it to friends, and rate it.  It’s a great way to get a treat in your mailbox – the next best thing to a fat quarter sent from a friend.

Changed Subscription Button

I changed subscription options on my blog.  I was offering subscriptions through Feedburner, but it wasn’t displaying my entire posts or photos in blog readers.  So I replaced it with a Bloglines button so you can subscribe directly through Bloglines.  I’ll be adding Yahoo buttons as well as others, so let me know what newsreaders you use and I’ll be happy to add those.

Soon I’ll be adding the option to subscribe via e-mail, so you can receive my blog postings in your e-mail inbox.  Coming soon!

Developing a Color Palette for Your Quilt

I’m moving the color palette lessons from my old blog home to here. I’ll be categorizing them so you can find them easily and refer back to them. Let me know if you have any trouble finding them. Ten lessons are available on topics from Assembling Your Color Kit to Understanding the Characteristics of Color. After reading through these and doing the exercises, I promise your understanding and mastery of color will blossom!

New Home for My Blog

View from my studio.
Welcome home! I hope you like the new place. Moving is always so difficult for me, and I so loved iWeb. But I had overtaxed iWeb’s abilities and it couldn’t handle the number of postings I had, so it was time to move on.

I am excited for you, dear readers, as this blog will be much easier to use and navigate. I’ll have categories, archives, tutorials, and all kinds of neat opportunities for you to learn and share! I have a bit of a learning curve now that I’m using WordPress, but I know you’ll patient with me. I promise I’ll have all the lessons and links you’ve come to know and love. Each time you visit I’ll be offering something new and exciting!

What do you think? Thanks for coming to my housewarming party!