Thursday, August 21, 2008

I did it!

I started my blog--after months of thinking about it. What spurred me to action? My dear friend, Susan Foster ( pointed me to The Rough Guide to Blogging. After reading a few chapters, I decided to take action instead of reading the entire book first--and made it easy--far easier than I had anticipated! By the way, I really found this book much easier to read and follow than any of those geared and titled to those of us who think we don't know much--I'm sure you know what I mean.

I did lose my first draft of this post due to technical errors created by a computer gremlin that has now been banished--so I get to write this one again. Ah, the joys and frustrations of the computer age! But, I wouldn't be able to do my many jobs without one

By the way, if you are traveling and worried about how to pack in these days of tightening restrictions, visit Susan's site, sign up for her e-letter, and order her book, Smart Packing for Today's Traveler. I edited it and it is full of fabulous information. Susan travels a lot and has a lot to say about how to pack for safe, easy, and happy traveling in comfort and in style.

Another thing Susan reminded me of was a favorite directive from Annie LaMott, author of Bird by Bird, my favorite book on writing. To paraphrase, in order to write (or in this case to blog), you must first put your butt in the chair--and if you don't have a good chair, go out and buy one so you have no excuses. Now that I've done that (put my butt in a chair, on our boat in Puget Sound), I think I will enjoy the process. I've been missing my bimonthly communication with other sewing and quilting enthusiasts via my old e-letter as the former editor of Sewing Savvy magazine, so I hope my readers will find me here, along with many new ones!

Vacation Stall
I'm sitting on our boat, writing this first post, because we didn't leave as planned for our two-week vacation cruise on Puget Sound. The weather interfered as is oft the case here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. We'll leave tomorrow as the weather is due to be nice (it's sunny and cool as I write) and head from our Olympia moorage to Tacoma. We plan to visit the Glass Museum there, which friends say is well worth the stop. If the weather continues to cooperate, we'll make it all the way to Victoria, BC, before turning to head for home after Labor Day. If not, we'll take it one day at a time and enjoy the scenery and the peaceful rocking of the boat at night. Sort of like camping out, but cozier, warmer and much drier!

Boating is a new adventure for me, with my sweet husband of nearly two years. Our 38-foot SeaRay cruiser is comfortable for two--now Stan is trying to convince me we could live on it and that I could have my sewing machine (and all the stuff that goes with it?) onboard, too. I'm not so sure he will be able to convince me of that! We'll see what retirement brings on Pier Pleasure--which we may rename, since it came with the boat. Sea for Two is one of our favorite choices for renaming it.

A New Website
Since I left my post of Editor at Sewing Savvy last spring, I've been plenty busy! Stan's work as a project manager has required multiple trips to Maui over the past 18 months and I've been able to tag along with him for several weeks at a time in the past year. The best trips were the ones I took this winter and spring. Sunshine in Maui is a great substitute for the gray, cold, and rainy days that always come in the winter and early spring months in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I spent time in the sun on all my visits while Stan worked with the County of Maui on a safety radio project, but I also worked.

First, I worked on my website, It took a lot of work to figure out how to do it myself on and I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone less experienced than I am--but it's done and functioning--one more goal off the list. My graphic designer, Missy Shepler, did a great job with my logo. Visit her lovely blog at At my website, you can read about my sewing career, my writing and editing services (All the Write Words), and my pattern line (Jo-Lydia's Attic). You can order my patterns there--by snail mail until I add PayPal--soon I hope. My tote bag patterns are ever-popular, plus there are a few quilt patterns and a garment pattern, too. Unless I'm traveling, orders go out within 24 hours.

Birthing a New Book
October to April found me at the computer nonstop, writing The Quilting Answer Book for Storey Publishing, where I worked briefly in 1998 before returning to the Portland area. Funny how things happen! The book is a 400-page handbook answering all the questions that might come up when making a quilt. With over 230 illustrations, it's jam-packed with info in a small size that will be easy to keep at your fingertips by your sewing machine! I've had a peek at the edited text and illustrations and look forward to seeing it in page layouts in October. It will be published in late spring 2009--I'll keep you posted on the pub date and post a photo of the cover after it's been finalized. I've had a few months off from the book-writing process, but am now working on the next one for Storey--this one on sewing. More about that as the work progresses.

I did end up with tendinitis and a sore shoulder during the writing--too much time at the computer for long periods--I don't recommend it. A great massage therapist, plus a fabulous stretching exercise program--The Egoscue Method--has provided much relief. I can't recommend the Egoscue DVDs enough. After years of making a rounded, forward-shoulder adjustment when sewing blouses and jackets, that's no longer necessary as the exercises have corrected the problem, improved my balance and posture in general and improved my leg and arm strength. I'll post the name of the program in my reading list--when I find the whole thing.

Working Part-time
I'm also working one day a week at The Fabric Shop Network, the only trade association for quilt and fabric store owners and offering lots of benefits, programs, and a great magazine. Visit for more info if you're a store owner.

Fabshopnet is also the originator of the popular on-line shopping adventure--fabshophop-- --for consumers. You can shop in jammies at well over 100 sites during each of the hops scheduled during the year. There's one starting on September 1st, so hope on over there and register at
http://www.fabshophop/ so you don't miss a day of hopping and shopping for fabrics and other great stuff. Watch for sales items and make sure you register at each site so you're in the drawing for some really great door prizes, including a sewing machine!

And, their new consumer website, is up and running, too. I helped with that. You can go to the site to see what's happening in the world of apron sewing, join an apron challenge, find shops that will be participating in National Tie One On Day (an apron that is), and look for shops that will be offering Apron-icity classes or events in their stores.

Break Time
Back from a break. We took a lovely walk in the sunshine just now and I was struck at how quickly the summer is beginning to fade. All it takes is a little rain after a long, dry summer to remind one that the warm days are waning! I've been reading a wonderful book, Plum Wine, set in Japan. It featured several pieces of haiku (Japanese poetry). As we walked, these words came to mind--not haiku, but similar.

Leaves crisped by summer sun...
click and tumble
across rain-washed sidewalks
and windswept pathways...
sure signs of autumn's imminence.

Lovely Lanai
My last trip to Maui with Stan was in June. We spent a week in Maui, then took the ferry to Lanai for 5 days, where we stayed at the Koele Lodge, a 5-star Four Seasons Lodge. It was to die for--I felt like a princess and was treated like one. Stan had to work during the days while I used the spa, wandered the grounds, and sat on the lanai, working on the next book. The grounds are exquisite and so is the service and the food. My favorite spot was the orchid house, a glass structure imported from Europe and filled to overflowing with beautiful orchids.

Lanai isn't a particularly beautiful or lush island, but Koele Lodge is a lovely oasis there. The temps in June were in the high 70s and not too humid. Not what I expected--more like being in Colorado in the spring than Hawaii in the summer. There is red dirt all over the island--another reminder of home in Colorado.

Next we puddle-jumped to Molokai--quite a contrast to Lanai--the old Hawaii, Stan says. We stayed in a condo with ocean views and had our own brood of feral chicks that made the rounds with "Mom" several times a day. Moloai Kitty (our name), came to visit each night. I re-read Michener's Hawaii on this trip and it made much more sense since I was there! We went to the lookout where we could see the leper colony that figured in the story. We said farewell to Molokai and returned to Maui to a regular hotel--another big contrast from the Lodge--before returning home.

New Patterns Coming
I've spent the last two months on home dec painting projects and in my studio developing new patterns for Jo-Lydia's Attic. A wonderful new quilted travel tote and a special travel wallet for sewers and quilters are in the illustration phase and will be ready to post on the website. Watch for them there and ask for them at your local shop or order online.

A Granddaughter to Love
We were blessed with the birth of our beautiful granddaughter in March (Stan's daughter and son-in-law are the parents) and I am loving being "grammy" to Kendall. She's had her first ride on Grandpa's boat--he's in love with the "punkin" as he calls her. She is a happy girl, always smiling and giggling now at 5 months. She has her first grammy quilt and of course I'm dreaming of the day when she can sit in my lap and sew with me like I did with my grandmothers when I was little. Oh what fun we will have!

I've babbled along long enough for a first post and so will wrap this up, hoping to see you here often for my news, plus sewing tidbits. I hope to add some tutorials on sewing and quilting as time permits and share other sewing and quilting news as it develops.

Until next time,
Keep on sewing and smiling!!


mshepler said...

Hi, Barbara,

Love your new blog! I think you did a fabulous job, and I'm looking forward to reading your next posts.

Take care,

Anonymous said...

I have had many great moments sewing on our boat, a 30 foot sail boat. I have developed, out of necessity, a few good tricks. As much as we love sailing I don't think I could live on it. My stash wouldn't fit. We spend most weekends from May to October on the boat on Lake Ontario.