Sunday, April 26, 2009

New Candle Label


We redesigned our candle label for something a little more modern. What do you think? The quality of this photo isn't that great. The labels we put together are much more sharp.

Barefoot In the Garden...


My oh My! Summer has finally arrived this weekend and I'm lovin' every minute of it! I've got all the windows in the house WIDE OPEN and all the curtains PUSHED BACK! I'm going to soak up every inch of sunshine available as we don't get to see it in this neck of the woods too often.

I took Fiona for a walk in the back yard yesterday barefoot in the grass. We stopped along the river bank and scooped up the last of the daffodils that were blooming. These kind are some of my favorite. I just love how the insides are a bright orange while the petals are a creamy yellow. They remind me of fried eggs for some reason.


Rowan had fun playing on the swing set most of the day on Saturday. GaGa even filled up a tub full of water for him to sail his boats!

I haven't gotten much of anything accomplished this weekend due to the gorgeous weather.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Should I Sell My Quilt?


HAPPY THURSDAY GREETINGS - I'm writing tonight to ask you all a question. Remember that batik quilt I dropped off to my local department store a week or two ago? Well, when I got home from work today there was a message on the machine from one of the ladies who works there.

First, she wanted to tell me that some of the notions I ordered were in. And the next thing she told me, just blew me away...

She said, "Also, Ryan, I hadn't even had your quilt in the window more than one afternoon and I had a lady want to buy it. I took her email address and if you stop in I will give it to you."

I had to play the message over again to make sure I understood what she said. I couldn't believe it. That just made my day!

So everyone out in blog-land, should I sell my quilt? I wouldn't even begin to know what to charge!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Homestyle Lavender Tart Update

I really need to get to bed for my long day tomorrow, but I wanted to show you the Lavender tarts that just popped out of the muffin tin. These and the others from the previous post are all I was able to get through tonight. Hope you all like them!



Thanks, and have a good night. I mean it this time!

Ryan @ Catskill Country Cupboard

All New Homestyle Wax Tart Line

HAPPY TUESDAY EVERYONE - I spent most of the day downstate meeting with cliets today. I was sure tired when I got home, but not too tired to work on some things for the store.

I've been recently tossing the idea around of making a more primitive looking tart to add to our line of wax items. I found a neat antique muffin pan last year I've been dying to pour some wax in. They make great candle and tart molds.

I rounded up some rose hips, cinnamon sticks, lavender buds, sweet annie, wax and scent. This is what I came up with: our new homestyle wax tarts. I've only had time tonight to pour 2 batches. I really liked how they turned out. They smell wonderful fresh out of the pan. I can only imagine how strong they'll be 3 days from now when they are fully cured.





I'm planning 2 more versions currently. A sage and lemongrass scent and a lavender and herb scent.

You can check them out on our website by CLICKING HERE.

I'm going to be at an all day conference tomorrow and then have calling hours till 9 so I probably won't check in till Thursday. I hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday!

Ryan @ Catskill Country Cupboard

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Candle Fest


SUNDAY GREETINGS EVERYBODY - My wife decided to take the kids to visit some relatives for the day. Since I'm on call for the FH, I stayed behind. I took the opportunity to finish up some orders. Besides updating the website and rocking the little one this morning while my wife was getting ready to go, I've been pouring and pouring.

I hope everyone out there is having a nice Sunday. The weather out here is a little brisk still. Not bad enough to stay inside, but refreshing when you have the windows open. I can't wait to get out there and start planting the sunflower garden!

How are you coming along with that quilt Kristie?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday Stash Additions

Oh, boy! Look at what I just picked up at my favorite department store!


I was speaking with one of the sales ladies and I mentioned I was participating in an online swap, ALQS3. I said I had a loose idea of what I was thinking of doing. And that I was planning on using all batiks and wanted to include some yarn embellishments for a little change of pace. Sounds artsy enough, right?

She got a big smile on her face and pulled a big basket of all sorts of new fancy yarns for me to take a look at. The colors just popped right out at me.




This was my very first yarn purchase so that made me very excited. I just opened up a whole new window for decorating my quilts.

My question for you would be, are there any great yarn and embellishment companies out there that I've been missing out on? Please fill me in.

Threads and Fibers


HAPPY SATURDAY EVERYONE - I was recently inspired by my friend Kristie who was asking me my opinion on thread choices for sewing and quilting. I did a little investigating by looking at my thread rack to see if there was any rhyme or reason as to why I used any particular thread. Here's what I came up with...

The funny thing about thread (or for any quilting/sewing supply question) is that everyone you ask will give you a different answer.

When I first started quilting I subscribed to the philosophy, if I'm using 100% cotton fabrics then I should use 100% cotton thread. That seemed to make sense. I made several small table runners and mats only to find out that after numerous washings the squares started to slowly come apart from the cotton breaking down. I sure wish I'd known that earlier because I bought a whole lot of cotton thread sets that I now use only for things that I know won't get washed very often. I suppose if you plan on hand washing everything with little detergent, cotton would be just fine. You can find it anywhere and it is the least expensive in my experience.

Connecting Threads has a great line of 100% cotton thread for only $1.99 a spool. I think I bought every color they made when they first introduced it.

The only other problem I've found with 100% cotton thread is that it tends to create a lot of lint in your machine. I always keep a can of spray air next to my machine to spray out the bobbin case and sewing surface. You will see the build up especially if you use the 100% cotton in your bobbin spool. Some people will use a 100% cotton thread for topside quilting and use a matching polyester blend in the bobbin to cut down on lint.

Mettler makes a nice 100% cotton silk-finish merc. thread that you can find for around $6.00. This is a much stronger thread which will produce little lint. It works well for everyday piecing and projects.

Gutermann makes a nice 100% polyester thread. This thread has a nice shiny finish for embellishing and quilting. I don't normally use it for straight stitch piecing because if you don't have your tension set just right, the stitches will be loose. When you steam your seams open the thread might show.

For every-day sewing and quilt making I use a Coats & Clark all purpose thread that has a 37% cotton and 63% polyester ratio. It's actually mercerized cotton with a polyester core making it stronger and more durable. It comes in all sorts of colors and is available in most any department stores. Probably the main reason why I like this thread so much is because they have it stocked in Stewart's Department Store which is just a short walk down the street from me. It will also stand up to washing better.

Of course I'm sure that some will gasp at the mere mention that I wash my quilts when needed. I've got kids and spills/stains happen! Most of the quilts and projects I make have function, with the exception of a few favorites I won't use. Those special quilts are displayed on racks in my sewing room.

What do you all think? What type of thread do you use/prefer? Please share.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bloggers Quilt Festival

First off I want to offer a big THANKS to Amy over at Park City Girl for hosting this wonderful quilt festival. I am just amazed at the turn out.

And the GULP!... 212+ people who have posted so far! I can just tell my whole weekend will be sucked away admiring everyone's work.

Let me introduce you to my favorite quilt:



If you have been reading along here at I'm Just a Guy Who Quilts, you may remember me posting about this quilt recently. I call this one my Picnic Quilt because it is just the right size to tuck in the back of the car or camper. It is my #1 favorite quilt I've completed to date. So much so, that I am afraid even to use it for it's exact purpose. I wouldn't want to get it dirty!

I've always loved the colorful 30's and 40's prints and had quite a collection of strips that I tucked away for a rainy day. Now, my wife and I both always loved to go camping in the summer time or spend time out doors, even before we were married. So I thought that one day I would have enough strips to make a spread to go on the bed in the camper we use that belongs to my inlaws. Well, I kept saving and saving strips, we got married, had kids and I hadn't gotten around to even starting the thing.

One day I was rummaging around the storage tubs in my sewing room for some candy themed fabric to make a Halloween quilt and I came across the bundle of strips I saved. I realized it had been almost 3 years since we were married and 5 plus years since I started saving 30's print strips. I promised myself I would start piecing after the holidays sort of like a New Year's resolution.

The construction is relatively simple. I hardly ever use patterns, just sew and go. I paired the bright prints with a white fabric to make them pop. I ended up with a variation on a log cabin block. The quilt top was done in a day or two. I ultimately decided to make something just big enough to lay on the bed to add some color to the drab 70's feel of the camper. You know, one of those that was orange and brown outside and inside? It hasn't made it on a camping trip with us yet.



To make a long story short, I didn't get the finished top to the quilter for about a year after completing it. Life happened and so did other quilting projects. It was eventually finished and hasn't left the house since its return, until recently. I dropped it off to my local department store last Wednesday so they could do a window display with it. They are featuring men who quilt and sew next month. Maybe when I get it back I might let it air out every once in awhile to enjoy it more.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to Ruin A Perfectly Good Box of Candles

I recently mentioned a wholesale box of candles that bit the dust in a post over the last few days. Well, here's the "short and sweet" version for all those inquiring minds:

We live in an old house built in the mid 1800's. All of the heat in the house is still the original steam radiator heat they installed "new" sometime in the last century. These buggers get very hot when the spit and carry on. One such fellow was in on the so-called execution of that darn box of freshly poured candles.

We were working along trying to make a schedule around the end of my wife's pregnancy. The last two weeks, almost nothing was accomplished in the shop. I would sneak away to pour a batch or two and place it in the shipping box so I could cross it off my list. The contractions started and we were off to the hospital. Two days later we were back and I got so busy with the FH (AKA "Funeral Home") (they were literally begging me to come back to work the same day we got home), that I continued to pour small batches of candles around my work schedule.

Around the same time we returned home. My father in law was hospitalized for bowel adhesions. He was battling intense stomach pain for a week, only to get discharged and return a week or two later. Along the way and in the confusion, the box got shuffled around the candle corner and was leaned up against a radiator! (Insert eerie foreboding organ music here)

I'm sure you can guess what's going to follow. The suspense is killing me.

I noticed the box while entering the candle corner one fateful weekend when I thought I would finally get this order out. I heard the spitting of that guilty piece of iron as soon as I went through the door. I ran to the box and pushed it away from the radiator and pangs of raw nerve started to ball up in my gut as I felt the heat emitting from the cardboard.

My mind started pouring over minute nerdy facts about soy wax.

It has a LOW melting temp, It will become soft and lose shape if heated and reheated several times...

I opened the box to a bunch of melted lumps in bags and jars with tops leaking wax. I think I uttered every curse word in the book that day. I was like Ralphie's father in "The Christmas Story" movie.

That day I had to begin my candle journey all over again. I vowed that I would finish that order this weekend and ship it out. One day I hope to laugh about this, but now I'm not quite ready. I hope Linda will forgive me for royally messing up her order.

There was only one good thing that came of all this mess. I now know what I am giving to all my relatives this Holiday season!

I'll give you 2 guesses!

Park City Girl: Calling All Quilters!

Park City Girl: Calling All Quilters!

Bloggers Quilt Festival! JOIN IN


Amy at Park City Girl is hosting a wonderful Bloggers Quilt Festival this Friday, April 17! I am way excited to be participating and can hardly wait to check in to see all the wonderful quilts and stories. Make sure you stop by. Did I mention they are giving away prizes!?!

Yowza! THANKS for hosting this great festival Amy!

Someone Made My Day!

THURSDAY GREETINGS EVERYONE - I received a wonderful gift in the mail today that took me completely by surprise. On my walk back to work after lunch I noticed a manilla envelope tucked inside my mailbox. The return address read Amy Kiger-Williams. I grabbed the package and started to open it, all the while thinking,

I don't think I had any orders out I hadn't gotten yet...

Inside was some fabric from the Barker Flower Fairies line including some coordinates and a note.

It read, "Ryan, Sent to you from someone that heard you really liked and wanted this fabric. They hope you have fun creating with it!!"



I couldn't believe it. It brought a big smile to my face. I especially like the yellow fairy fabric with the glittery wings. It's just too beautiful to chop up and use! My 9 year old sister has been quilting recently as well and I'd love to share this fabric with her. I'm sure she'd like it too.

I had blogged about liking the look of this line earlier in the month. I want to say THANK YOU to the lovely person who sent this care package to me. I've only been blogging for a short period of time and have already met some wonderful people. Even though we may be separated by states or even continents, quilters, crafters and bloggers are sure a tight knit bunch!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

EASTER BLESSINGS

WE HOPE EVERYONE HAS A HAPPY EASTER!


Postcard courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday... Just Another Work Day

SATURDAY GREETINGS EVERYBODY - Just checking in. My sisters and family arrived for the Easter holiday on Friday afternoon. We've had fun catching up with all the happenings going on in their lives. My one sister spent the night last night and we stayed up late watching Paula Dean and Barefoot Contessa on the food network (some of our guilty pleasures).

Today, we got up early to spend the day catching up orders for the shop. My mother came over around 8:30 with my youngest sister. She's been saying she wants to help me with orders so she can learn how I create some of my items. I had 2 wholesale orders to complete (one quite a disaster). I'll elaborate on that a little later, SO SORRY DALE AND LINDA! We poured over 100 orders of cupcake tarts and candles. Whew!


My mother spent the afternoon recycling tin cans into "rusty" cans for candles.




On my agenda after Easter festivities:

Pack Etsy and eBay orders to ship Monday
Pack giveaway goodies for everyone (yes the giveaway from March!) I am so behind!

I hope everyone has a HAPPY EASTER tomorrow. I'll be back again on Monday. See you then!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sorry Kristie... Yard Work Today... John's Pillows Arrived


THURSDAY GREETINGS EVERYONE - Today turned out to be quite a nice day here in NY! Warm enough to get some yard work done outside (one of my favorite Spring/Summer activities). The FH was quiet today and I knew that one of our empty flower beds was in pretty bad shape after not tending to it last year. I was able to pull most of the weed roots out of it and rake it smooth. I even mowed the upper lawn to pick up all the loose sticks and leaves. I'm sure my neighbors thought I had officially lost it. Most people around here don't pull out their lawn tractors till late May.

I'm making plans to expand our sunflower garden this Summer due to the number of customers who ordered sunflower heads from our shop (we have been out of stock since early winter). We plant lots of sunflowers every year and dry them for bowl fillers and decorations. The birds and squirrels enjoy munching on the larger heads we place out for them all winter long.


I had every intention of taking pictures of Kristie's giveaway loot one night this week, but our son came home from his Aunt's late last night and the night before he slept over there. I came in from being outside this afternoon to an empty box. My wife decided to empty it and put its contents in the linen closet. That's what I get for procrastinating. She didn't put away the tropical lifesavers though! I put them in a dish beside my sewing machine and have been enjoying them all week. THANKS AGAIN KRISTIE!

John's pillows arrived in the mail today! They are even more beautiful in person. Thanks again John. My wife really likes the fabrics you chose and she took charge of finding a place for them. She's been dying to redo our front living room all winter. She might use your pillows as a color inspiration.

I went through some boxes in my sewing room this evening and found this mini log cabin top made from scraps. I need to finish it to hang in our entry. Great Spring colors.


I ordered some more of the dogwood fabric by Michelle Engel Benskoto yesterday so I could finish up the bird blocks. I only had a half yard of each colorway and ran out of this fabric after putting together 14 eight inch blocks. I might need it for a border.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Bird Blocks Design Complete

TUESDAY GREETINGS EVERYONE - Just arriving home from a long day at work. I'm headed off to North Adams, MA tomorrow to meet with a client so I'll be gone most of the day. I have a few things to finish up tonight, but I wanted to show you these blocks I completed this morning before leaving. I didn't follow a diagram for these, most of my blocks are cut and sew as you go. I am satisfied with them for the most part. I altered what I ended with last night by sewing HSTs on opposite corners of the blocks.

I really like the way the red corner fabric looks on the last border. I will take my sketch pad along with me to figure out the placement. I think the blocks will create an interesting pattern if sewn together without sashing.




I didn't forget about your giveaway post Kristie! My son has been spending afternoons with his aunt to try and give my wife a break with the baby. I promised him he could help me pull everything out of the box. He hasn't come home yet so if he doesn't go to bed early we can take some photos.

And lastly, a special thanks to everyone who checked in and commented recently. Your encouragement really does feed my creativity. The quilting and blogging community is really a great bunch!

Getting Tired... Bird Blocks Update

Here's what I have so far for the shape of the bird blocks at the end of day 1. I was playing with this configuration at one point, but gave up because I wasn't quite sure how I would go about finishing the edges since the blocks were offset.


So I squared each block up and started choosing fabrics for the block to go with. After trying several, I ended up deciding on this one. It still looks way too blah to me, so I will probably end up re-shaping the blocks again.




I have a pile of coordinating fabrics still, so I may make the blocks bigger and a little more interesting. I'll sleep on it tonight and maybe I'll get an idea sometime during the day tomorrow.

GOODNIGHT!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Feeling Creative... Something for the Birds

Remember when I posted about receiving my fabric order with Elizabeth House and Michelle Engel Bensko fabric? Shortly after getting the fabric I began a top secret Lizzy Dish project which is almost complete. So, I can't share anything about that yet. But, I can share photos of the beginnings of a block using the Dogwood fabric that was included in the order. These squares will be the center portions of the blocks.


I fussy cut the bird motifs from the green variation fabric and surrounded them in 1.5" strips of fabric from the red variation. And that's about all I've accomplished tonight. I have no plan whatsoever in mind for these blocks, so I guess I'll see them take shape as I go. On the fly in other words... he he he

The Accu Quilt GO!

I am currently drooling over one of these nifty little machines. Cutting the fabric is my LEAST favorite part of the entire quilt making process. I find I make most of my mistakes during this one phase. I love to buy honey buns, jelly rolls and layer cakes, but have been dreaming of having one of these slick puppies all to myself. I could spend hours on this thing and bust right through my stash.

Maybe the Easter Bunny will tuck one in my basket this year. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Won Quilt Dad Pillows!

I've been watching John's blog, Quilt Dad all day to see who he picked as the backup winner for his pillow giveaway as the first winner he selected has not checked in with him. He posted the new winner this evening and I was delighted to find out it was ME! Woo Hoo! Aren't these pillows awesome? He used fabric from the Katie Jump Rope Line designed by Denyse Schmidt for FreeSpirit



I've been admiring John's work since I found his blog. He always participates in numerous swaps and quilt-a-longs. He even inspired me to join my very first online quilt swap, Another Little Art Quilt Swap (ALQS3).

THANKS JOHN!

The Daffodils Are Smiling...

HAPPY SUNDAY EVERYONE - It's been a rather lazy day here today. Took the dogs for a walk, worked on some orders to be shipped out tomorrow, and picked some of the first Spring daffodils from our garden out back. I was just posting last week how wonderful it was to see the flower buds popping through the soil. And here, not much later are the flower stems for our picking pleasure! I think they grew a good 6 inches in a matter of a week.




I filled the bird feeders on the deck with the help of my son Rowan. He pointed out to me that this finch was still eating as we were bustling about making noise. He must have been hungry enough to not mind the disturbance.


I think our cat Lucky was enjoying the bird watching too!


I installed this 4 x 4 post on our elevated deck a few weekends ago and got some wrought iron hooks to put on each side of it. My son is having so much fun telling me about all the birds that visit it each day.


Still awaiting the arrival of that package of Deb Strain fabric. And getting excited about receiving Kristie's treasure box tomorrow. It didn't show on Saturday :(

I'll be sure to post about both!

American Patchwork & Quilting June 2009


Enjoying this issue immensely. The quilt on the cover is right up may alley!

I like the color variation for this alternate version as well. I am thinking it might be a good pattern to try for the Fresh by Deb Strain fabric I wrote about earlier HERE. They used Amy Butler fabric in their example.

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