Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Gifts from Jules and an Invitation

I want to start off this week by thanking you for all your kind words and support regarding my post last week. I was truly overwhelmed and your words were giant hugs to me. Thank you so very much for understanding and even more for encouraging me to continue down this rabbit hole. Your friendship is truly a gift I treasure.

Speaking of gifts, I received a surprise "parcel" as my European friends say, in the mail today. Doesn't parcel sound so much nicer than package? ;)

Jules sent me the most wonderful treats all of which are handmade or vintage! First is this beautiful rabbit pin, which was made by Jules' friend, Valerie Greeley. Isn't it wonderful? I love all the colors and details.

Next is this beautiful bookmark made by Jules. Perfect timing for a new book I just purchased by Neil Gaiman called "Norse Mythology."

As you know from our Briarside Lane adventure, as well as, the many original pieces Jules has gifted me, that I adore her work. I love how she painted on this linen and then added embroidery details. It makes my heart go pitter pat! :)

Next, she sent me this gorgeous card made by Karen Davies of Mustard Cuts. Jules knows that I have a HUGE love of papercut art. It is how most of my designs start out. This is so beautiful!

Of course, who can resist some ric rac and green beads? Not me! I also love that the beads are in a little glass container instead of plastic. So sweet and special!

The last gift, in the parcel of pressies, is this ivy leaf pendant, which is hand painted leather. It is such a thrill for me to receive this.

You see, I am a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE stalker fan of Jinny and Chris of Skyraven Wolf. These two incredible artists live on a Narrowboat in England. Remember the narrowboat block from our Briarside Lane adventure? Yep, they live on one of these!

Anyway, I learned that they aren't very far from Jules and there was going to be Summer market. Well, Jules and my dear Sallieann went to the market and met them! Was I totally jealous? That would be a big giant YES!!! lol! This is Sallieann and Chris!

This is the sign on their boat, which Jules told me they are still trying to finish painting. The old shoemaker and shoes story.

Well, like I said, I LOVE their work so very much. I am actually on a waiting list to get on the waiting list to get this handbag. Yep, you read that right, a waiting list to get on the waiting list! Patience is a virtue.... I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

Thank you Jules for all my pressies!!! I love them all so very much and love you even more!

Finally today, Jules and I would like to invite you to join our Facebook Group called "Fellowship of Fibers and Threads." There has been so much bad news, hatred and awful things going on in the world and frankly, Jules and I wanted to create a peaceful place where we could go and spend time with creative friends.

We are so inspired by all the incredible talent out there and felt we wanted a group that was inclusive of things encompassing all Fibers and Threads. So if you stitch, quilt, work in paper, embroider, crochet, knit, make dolls, etc. we invite you join our group and share. Designers, teachers and Shop Owners are also encouraged to share as who doesn't want to know about a fun place to shop? Here's the link to our group. We hope to see you there!

Love and hugs to you. I'll see you back here next week.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Not Sold in Stores - 5 reasons why I don't wholesale

Hi ya!

Last week I mentioned that I don't wholesale my designs. This week I thought I would share my reasons behind the decision I made last year.

No. 5: I'm a Rule Breaker.

  I've never been one to follow rules, but rather use them as guidelines for a way to get started, or as a basis to make things better. Most designers go into this business to get picked up by a distributor and have their designs in shops all around the world. After attending Quilt Market several times, I quickly learned it was not my cup of tea. All it did was stifle my creativity and put a ridiculous amount of pressure on me to "pump out" another design. I felt like I lost my creative voice and the reason I took the whole "hop of faith" in the first place. Plus, my designs don't follow the rules for wool applique. My style, techniques and materials don't fit into the wool applique status quo. I rather like that. It's kinda fun being a rebel. hee,hee,hee.

No. 4: Brick and Mortar shops are disappearing.

  Now, I know from teaching around the country that there are lots and lots of shops in the Midwestern states and some big ones out West, but here in the East, there really aren't that many and those that are here, don't sell wool. Also, since my designs aren't primitive or traditional, and I use wool blends instead of 100% wool, many stores are not interested in what I have to offer. Thus the reason I spent a fortune to open my own online shop. There is an exception though. I do offer my designs to ONE brick and mortar shop and that is because the shop owner, Lana Dunkerly, is a really dear friend of mine and is also a fellow bunny mama. Lana's shop is It Seams to be Sew. She is in Texas and you should visit her. Just say'in. ;)

No. 3: Some people are just naughty. 

  Well, there is always the ugly side to things isn't there? I tend to see the good in people and believe that they will treat me as good as I treat them, but that doesn't always happen. I have been burned soooooo many times now by shop owners, guilds and individuals. I had one shop owner order three patterns from me and then take them to the copy store where she proceeded to make copies and sell them in her shop. Another shop owner purchased my book and then taught classes out of the book making copies of the pattern pages for all the students. Then don't get me started on the guilds who copy hundreds of patterns for guild members, or the shops in other countries who steal because there is no way to press charges against them. Now I know you might be thinking "well it's not that big of a deal," but for me it is. This is my job. Let me give you an example. Let's say twelve students took a class and didn't buy my $19 book, twelve students didn't pay $12 for my pattern and 125 guild members didn't pay $12 for my pattern. That comes to a whopping $1,872.00 that was stolen from me and the bunnies. Honestly, I don't know of anyone who would want to keep working if their boss said, "I'm taking $1,872.00 from you this month because I don't feel like paying you. You should just continue to work and do a wonderful job making things for me to enjoy for free." Ok, enough on that as it makes me so upset that I cry. I just keep repeating this to myself.  "I deserve to get paid for my work like everyone else, I deserve to get paid for my work like everyone else, I deserve to get paid for my work like everyone else."

Moving on...

No. 2: My patterns contain lots of color photos and details.

  I'm a visual learner. I don't always understand what a person is trying to relay in written form. I know a lot of people are like this and thus, my patterns contain lots of color photos to back up my written instructions. This is especially nice with digital formats as you can zoom in to look at tiny details that don't always show up in a paper format. It also allows me to give you more information because you only have to print out what you need. You can store the patterns on your computer instead of adding clutter to your sewing room. In addition, the cost of printing my designs is ridiculously expensive. Not to mention, I love trees and try not to contribute to the death of them.

No. 1: You're my family.
   I will admit it. I'm selfish in the respect that I want you all to myself! LOL!!! I have a certain love and fondness for my customers. You become part of my bunny family. With all the choices out there, you find my designs worthy of spending your pennies on and you enjoy the challenge of making something different. Like me, you enjoy doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Also, working alone can be, well, lonely. Receiving emails and notes from you about what you have made makes my entire day! Plus, when I wrap your order and tie it with a ribbon, it's a little love and a hug I send along to you and it can only come from me.

So there you have it. I know a lot of my designer friends think I'm nuts for not wholesaling, but that's okay with me. Sometimes, you just have to follow where your heart leads you.

Hugs and I'll see you right back here next week!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Who Needs a Play Date?

There is nothing that brings me greater joy than spending a creative day with friends. I love the fun energy in the room, the laughter and all the happy smiles that come from my students when they complete their own personal masterpiece! Thus, I don't call my classes "Workshops," I call them "Play Dates."

My "Beekeeper Pincushion" play date has been lots of fun and I realized how much I, in addition to my students, enjoy making smaller projects. Being able to spend time adding details to something and enjoying every minute of the process is much more fun knowing there won't be hours and hours of work at home to complete it. Plus, it's nice making something that can be given as handmade, heartfelt gift to those we love and care about.

That being said, I have been working diligently over the last month to create another Play Date to offer my students. These are my "Heart Felt Notes." They are 4" x 6" postcards, using my Folk Art Fusion technique and they can actually be mailed!

Like my "Beekeeper Pincushion," students only have to bring two pair of scissors to class. Yep, that's it! No schlepping a sewing machine, no trying to find impossible supplies, no frustration from bringing the wrong things.

I bring the designs, wool felt, Valdani thread and loads of embellishments to play with. I share different stitching and embellishing techniques and bring plenty of samples to spark your imagination.

Here are some before and after photos.

Also, these designs are EXCLUSIVE to my classes. I do not sell them in my shop and they are not available in other shops as I don't wholesale my patterns (more on that in another post).

So, who needs a Play Date? Hop on over HERE for more information and for my calendar. Oh, and if you don't belong to a group or guild, I'm going to be teaching at the Houston Quilt Festival this year and at the Mid Atlantic Festival in February.

I look forward to meeting you and having a day of play!


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Creative People

Happy Wednesday!

Thank you for all your kind notes and messages about me teaching in Houston. I'm really excited that I will get to meet so many of you in person. Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!

My mind has been busy working on samples for a new class I will be offering in 2018. I'm almost done and will share more about that next Wednesday.

Today, I wanted to share some creative people. I love to listen to podcasts and things on YouTube while I'm stitching. It's a fun adventure to learn about fascinating people all over the world.

The first is textile designer and artist Karen Nicole. She specializes in embroidery and has worked hand in hand with many fashion designers to create incredible embellishments for garments.

The second is Elizabeth Eakins. She raises sheep and is a weaver. Her work (rugs and fabric) is found in the interior design world. Everything is simple, clean, serene and gorgeous!

I would LURVE to have sheep, but I don't think my neighborhood home owner association would go for it. hee,hee,hee. Elizabeth's farm is wonderful.

Enjoy these and I'll see you back here next week!

Hugs and friends,

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Remembering the Dream - The Houston Quilt Festival

Well hello there!

Another Wednesday has arrived. Time is hop, hop, hopping by. I've been doing a lot of "remembering" lately. I remember how nervous and scared I was to embark on this journey of making The Raspberry Rabbits my full-time job. Can you believe it has been five years now? It went by so quickly.

There has been much this little bunny has had to learn about running a creative business. Much of it learned the hard way. Nobody handed me a manual with a ten step system to success. Nobody explained to this extrovert, people loving, soak er upper of creative energy, how hard it would be to work alone day after day.  Nobody told me how much I would have to struggle with my inner artist and my own creative voice against what the "industry" expects and considers the right path. Also, to be totally honest, nobody told me how much of a huge financial struggle it would be and how it would, at times, drain the creative energy right out of me.

There were many times I thought about throwing in the towel and just plain giving up. I mean if one can't make a simple living at something, isn't it just better to keep it as a hobby? Why would anyone want to work so hard and not get paid, when doing a hobby is fun and enjoyable? But then, the little voice deep down the rabbit hole in my mind whispered and reminded me of why I decided, at the fork in the road five years ago, to take this path.  I remembered  that the gift I was given to share with the world is the gift of teaching and inspiring others. I remembered my dream to, one day, be a teacher at the biggest quilt festival in the world.

I remembered that if I believe in myself and believe hard enough, my dreams would always come true. Well, this year they did. It is with extreme joy and honor in my heart to announce that...


My "Beekeeper" class is being offered on Tuesday, October 31st. Yes, I will be wearing my bunny ears to celebrate Halloween!

I will also be teaching at the Sampler on Friday, November 3rd in which you will receive a demonstration and pattern to create my Dove Postcard.

In addition, if you are in town on Monday, October 30th, my friend, Catherine Redford, has invited me to be on her Iron Quilter Challenge team. Oh what fun that will be!

HOP OVER HERE to the Festival Class enrollment page.

Even if you are unable to take classes, but are still attending the show, I would love to meet you! I will be at "Meet the Teachers" on Thursday, November 2nd, from 5:30 - 6:00. Of course you may also see this little bunny and her ears hopping about this wonderful show. What a privilege it is to be among so many talented teachers who inspire the creativity in all of us.

Remembering the dream that came true.

Hugs and see ya next week!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"In a Fix" - Guest Bathroom

Well hi ya! How was your 4th of July? I can't believe it is July. I can't believe Briarside Lane is done. What a fun journey it was. Jules and I are already working on Wonderland Woods. We have something very special in store for you, but you'll have to wait until January 1st, which will be here before we know it.

This week I wanted to bring you another installment of "In a Fix." The guest bathroom was in dire need of a fix. Since we have been having more guests at Bayfield Cottage, we decided this would be a good place to start the inside updates.

This is how the bathroom looked when we moved in. It had a tiny, black-framed mirror above the vanity.

There were giant knobs on the vanity, along with child safety locks. Not to mention, the super nasty, dirty grout between the tiles on the floor. Eeeewwwwwww!

The worst thing though was the glass shower doors on the tub/shower. This was something people did quite often back in 2001 when our cottage was built. I never liked it. One, it makes it incredibly hard to get in and out of the darn tub. I'm a tiny person and it felt like crawling through a hole just to get in there. Two, the tracks that the doors slide back and forth on get sooooooooo icky! Three, it just looks cold and boring.

The floor of our cottage have actually dropped about an inch over the years. This caused the vanity to drop as well, which in turn, caused the caulking to pull loose.

Not to mention how much caulk was used in there! Good gracious it's about 1/2"!

Here's another view.

The first thing we did was take down the shower doors. David and I both scraped and scraped and scraped the adhesive off the fiberglass. Check out David's feet. Those are his house flip flops that he always wears with his socks. He's such a dork. hee,hee,hee.

The next thing was to patch holes, sand walls and figure out how to hang the new light fixture. Back when the house was "roughed in" the plumber put the vent pipe directly in line with the sink. The electrician put the junction box way over to the left! That would have never happened on my job site back when I was a Project Manager. Needless to say, David had to do some fancy fixing in order to get the light fixture to hang over the vanity properly.

Next, he cut out all that old caulking around the vanity. Once he did, he discovered that the vanity top was not seated on the vanity cabinet all the way. He pushed it back against the wall and viola, no need for all that massive caulking! Again, would have never happened on my job site. Geesh...

We had a fiberglass repair man come and fix the holes that were left when we took the shower doors down. He did a nice job, but he didn't use a respirator and kept the door shut. NUTS!!! The fumes were so awful! I told him to open the door because I didn't want him to die in my bathroom. Dumb!

After the tub was repaired, David painted over the grey walls with  Aged White and the trim with Whitetail by Sherwin Williams. Now I know all the rage and the "in" thing is grey, greige and the like, but I just can't do it. I despise gray! It makes me feel sad, depressed, tired and like I'm constantly in the rain. Can you tell I don't like gray? hee,hee,hee. Plus, I enjoy being a rule breaker and going against the norm. This color is a soft, creamy white. It makes me feel like I can breathe. It's clean, but warm and is a perfect neutral backdrop for my "Calm, Clean and Serene" style.

I bought a fun, beveled edge mirror that I think brings something unexpected. I also purchased a new shower curtain that has a nice texture, but doesn't take over the space.

Here's how it looks with the light on.

Next, I removed the child safety locks, (boy was that hard!) and replaced the giant knobs with low profile, brushed-chrome knobs. Now we don't have to worry about taking out a hip when we walk past them. Giggle, snort.... ;)

There really wasn't a good place to put a towel ring for a hand towel. I'm never a fan of putting towel rings above light switches. So, I decided to purchase a towel bar that sits on the vanity. These cute fingertip towels match the shower curtain. I kinda did the happy bunny dance in the middle of Bed, Bath and Beyond when I found them. Just say'in.

Instead of a towel bar that would hold one towel for guests, I decided to use three towel hooks.

I also scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed that nasty grout with Grease Lightning and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It took me almost two hours, but what a difference!

David's caulking job is wonderful and the vanity top is straight and where it is suppose to be.

Eventually, I will replace the pictures that are hanging with some sort of original art, but for now, these will work.

David and I are really happy with how it all turned out. Now on to the next project, which he tells me is sanding and staining our back deck. Somehow I think that needs to wait until the fall when it isn't 100 degrees outside.

Hugs and see ya next week!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Briarside Lane - Finale Challenge

Hello dear friends,

Well, we have made it to the grand finale of Briarside Lane. Here's what the finished quilt looks like. It measures 44 x 56. I have it pinned to my design board if you are wondering what those little pearl dots are. hee,hee,hee.

I decided I wanted each piece simply framed with sashing fabric and one large border. When I tried to add patchwork around the blocks, it took away from the blocks. Also, it was in competition with the embroidery. The blocks just didn't feel as special to me and I wanted them to be a reminder of how much I loved this journey so the patchwork was out for me.

Each month was just as exciting and just as much a mystery to me as I didn't know what Jules' paintings would look like. I got them one at a time just like you. As a designer I found this to be a most wonderful challenge. Textile artist Karen Nicole said, "Collaboration takes you out of your comfort zone." I couldn't agree more. This process allowed me to stretch myself and really hone in on my Folk Art Fusion style.

Jules enjoyed the journey too as she was free to simply paint and write from her imagination. Two things she is truly gifted with. Didn't you love reading about each stop?

During this journey I realized lots of things I really LOVE to do and lots of things I no longer want to do. That is what a creative journey is all about isn't it?

Hand work, wool and embroidery bring me so much joy. I can sit and stitch for hours and never be bored.

Hand work is portable so I always have something to work on with my Stitch and Chat group on Thursdays.

Jules said it best in a recent email to me.

 "It’s that physical connection that you just do not get with electric sewing machines/computers. To me they are very useful implements for carrying out a task, but  with a needle and thread in your hand you are really engaged and connected with the fabric on a purely personal level.It’s where the ‘art’ part comes for me, your stitches are your own, not created by a machine." 

It's exactly how I feel and I'm drawn more to textile art, more so than quilting. Remember, you don't have to make this into a quilt. This is your journey to create as you like. If you make the blocks into something else, please do share!

Going forward Jules and I have already started working on 2018's adventure. It's called Wonderland Woods. We'll keep you posted as the details unfold. We are truly looking forward to sharing another creative journey with you.

The finale pattern is FREE, so HOP on over to the SHOP to get it. 

Thank you so very much for being a part of The Raspberry Rabbits family. We love you bunches!
Michelle, Jules and the Bunnies

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Photos from Friends

Well hi ya! How's your first few days of Summer going? Ours has been rather interesting. First, we have been dealing with a water issue here in Wilmington. It seems there is a chemical in the water called GenX, which causes cancer. It's been in the water for a long time and now there is an uproar from residents as it has been made public. I'm sure there is probably a cover up by the chemical plant and the water company. Having a Flint, MI and Erin Brockovich flashback. Where we live isn't affected, "as they say," but I don't trust them. It's all about greed and squandering money regardless of how it affects the well being of others. Disgusting. We'll see how it all unfolds over the next few weeks.

Second, even though we had the house sprayed for the massive ant infestation, They're Back! Uggggh! I hate killing stuff, but the clean freak in me wins this one. I can't handle insects of any kind crawling around my food or Hannah and Sabrina's food. NOPE! Not sure if they are coming up through the kitchen sink drain line. Anywho, the bug man is coming again tomorrow. May the force be with him. hee,hee,hee. giggle, snort. ;)

Alrighty then, on to some fun eye candy shall we? This first piece is from my guild friend, Lynn Flaherty. She used "O'Ryan the Stargazer" from my book to create this adorable baby quilt. I love all the happy colors and this is now "Olivia the Owl" don't you think? :)

This next piece was found at a quilt show that a couple of my guild members attended. They took this photo to share with me. (Thanks Mary and Donna!). This is my Peter's Pumpkin design made by my student Susan Foster. I simply adore how she quilted the background! I think it truly added so much to the overall design.


My sweet friend, Kathy (Kat) Tongue is using my "Wild Hare" design from my book and flowers from several of my other designs to create her own unique piece. I can't wait to see what she does. It looks wonderful so far!

Kat is also playing around with colors from one of my other designs from a while back called "Love Grows."

This is my new friend, Brenda Call. I met her in January when I taught for her guild. She purchased my "Seamore the Seahorse" design and this is how he turned out. I'm soooooooooo proud of her as she suffers from severe carpel tunnel in her wrists. She was in pain doing all the hand stitching, but had so much fun and wasn't about to let it stop her! You go girlfriend! Woooooo hoooooo!

The last piece I'm sharing is from my friend, Marji Carano. Marji took my "Beekeeper Class" and this is how her pincushion turned out. I love how she used purple wool felt and the yellow rick rack on the bee to tie it into the flower. Too cute!

One last reminder that Saturday, July 1st, will be the grand finale of Briarside Lane. I will show you how to put all the blocks together and what the finished quilt looks like.

See you then!