29 May, 2012

Many Thanks

In the life of a quilter one gets very used to the reactions of people when you give them a quilt. They are either blase about it and you wonder why you bothered OR they are blown away by your kindness, let alone the awesomeness of the quilt itself. But very rarely does the quilter get to be on the other side of that relationship.

I've been there once before, when my SIL gave The Monster's baby quilt. It's pretty cool (the feeling and the quilt).

At Quilt Market, however, I got that feeling twice. And even though I'm friends with quilters I hardly expected it. To be fair, the quilts weren't for me. They are Nikolai's quilts.

The first one came from Rashida. Amanda and I ran into her on the show floor. We were on our way to the Generation Q booth, to say hi to the folks there. Rashida joined us for the chat. There we were in the booth, chatting away and admiring the ever rotating display of quilts when I was handed a quilt. Made with linen, some solids, and Cloud 9's Monsterz line, it's the sweetest baby quilt. I was admiring it when Rashida told me it was for Nicky. I'll admit it, I lost it and was gushing like a total geek. So, so sweet.

(BTW, more details on the quilt in the premiere print issue of Generation Q.)

We kept trying to get a picture of Rashida with Nicky. It turns out someone was always crying...

Then, on our last night together Amanda and I retreated to the hotel room. We sat chatting as I nursed the baby and we signed bookplates. After the energy and crowds of Market it was nice to finally have some time to reflect and be together. It was, after all, only the second time we'd been together. And she presented Nikolai with an awesome quilt. She knows me so well that the design was perfect, beyond it being a slab quilt. In writing the book we always pushed each other and always responded. Maybe she didn't mean the symbolism, but she put purple in it and it is all solids. That accounts for one push from me and one from her.

And now, my beautiful crazy boy has some gorgeous love to cuddle with that come from dear friends. He's got no choice, that kid, he's the son of a quilter, surrounded by quilters, and buried in quilts.

23 May, 2012


I'm feeling a bit reflective, bear with me.

Being a quilter, for me, is intrinsically tied to being a mother. Sure, I quilted before I had my first baby. It wasn't until I had The Monster, however, that I became a quilter. As I became a mother, so I became a quilter.

It wasn't a SHAZAM! kind of moment where birthing a child suddenly gave me colour clarity or sewing skills. Nor was it a direct result of sewing cute little baby things. Rather, it was a gradual development of an inevitable compulsion.

This is why I say inevitable.

Long before I had kids I won the 8th grade Home Ec Award. All this really means is that I was the quickest to sew together my sweat pants and I'd mastered granola. The next year I lost out and suffered the indignity of crimped hair for the school fashion show. At the time I though I'd come a long, long way from the tube dresses I made for my Barbie dolls.

My first quilt was for my boyfriend's (now husband), first nephew. A simple yellow, white, and grey Irish Chain. I got bruises carrying the heavy old machine of my mom's to and from the train station. The bruises aren't my only injuries. I sliced my finger with a rotary cutter once - I'm now missing a tip. And my wrists and hands have more than a few iron burns. All for the love of quilting.

I shudder to think what I've spent in all my years of quilting. My stash is large, but not the biggest you'll ever see. It certainly doesn't reflect the fact that I've made about 100 quilts since that first quilt 14 years ago.

All that money and those injuries are fine. That's because I'm a quilter. Just like the sleepless nights, heartache, and stress of being a mother - it comes with the job. Hmm, those things come with being a quilter too.

In the first year of The Monster's life I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. She was an amazing napper and our house is only so big. It stayed as clean as it could and I was left with hours of free time every day. In time my two or three quilts a year became one a month.

That full year of mat leave produced about 10 quilts and a profound change in my being. I find it hard to describe it adequately, but becoming a mother led me to accept my true self.

After junior high I put away the sewing machine and laid down the pen I used to write stories. The focus for me was on training for swimming, then rowing. Once those were gone it was all about boys and beer. I tried to resurrect my creativity by going to journalism school, but it didn't stick. But the creative nature was there, lurking, but never gone.

That year after The Monster's birth changed all that. If I was going to be a good mama I needed full honesty with her and with myself. Not only did I have to put aside my hang-ups about my physical and creative self, I had to put my compulsions at the fore. I needed to create and I needed to embrace that. Complete honesty gave me the confidence to do that. Doing so made me a better mother, I have no doubt about that.

Now, another daughter and our son later, there is no less confidence and the compulsion grows. That's why it feels right to sew on the dining room table, to sketch quilts with the girls, to take my son to Quilt Market.

Without becoming a mother I would not be a quilter. And because I am both I am fiercely proud of it. No one will ever take that away, no matter how hard they try.

I am Cheryl Arkison, Mama to her babies and quilter to all.

16 May, 2012


Never in my entire life did I expect to take a trip to Kansas City. Not once. But here I am, sitting in an airport lounge with this as my current view.

We're on our way to Quilt Market. And we missed our flight. That means I get the chance to chat here before we go. I'm excited to let you know about the events we have going on at Market.

Schoolhouse Session
May 17, Thursday
Room 2203 

Amanda and I will have treats, there will be books to giveaway and a pile of quilts from Sunday Morning Quilts on display, and loads of info about the book.

(C&T/Stash Books has a whole pile of schoolhouse sessions scheduled, so make sure you take in some of the others, if you can.)

Book Signing
May 19, Saturday
1:00 pm 
United Notions/Moda Booth 124

Join us to get your book signed by BOTH of us.


In other Sunday Morning Quilts news, we were so excited to hear of an on-line bee inspired by the book. Charlotte at Grammie Q's is hosting an on-line bee/swap. Check it out!

14 May, 2012

Pretty Thanks

Have you ever heard of the Irish Rovers? They are a Canadian institution and I can't have a party without thinking of them. Even if that party involves babies, books, and quilts instead of  gin, whiskey, or 3 or 4 6-packs,  I don't know.

Thank-you so much to Bernadette at Traditional Pastimes, my family, guild members, friends, and even fans who came out to see quilts, get their books signed, and celebrate Sunday Morning Quilts with me.

There I am, multi-tasking. Nursing and signing books at the same time. This will be me at Market in a few short days. Hoping I can get through my Schoolhouse without a baby on my boob.

For a limited time only The Monster was signing books with me. It was freakishly adorable, actually. She found anyone walking through the store who didn't have a book in their arms and asked them to buy a book. Then she brought them to the table, handed them the book (then took it back to hand to me to sign), then signed it herself. If Bernadette had let her she would have taken their money too. By the end of the night she was working on her own signature, instead of simply printing her name.

This is my friend Andrea. She came out with her family to snuggle Nikolai, er... get her book signed. I absolutely love hanging out with Andrea. And we met on-line, through our quilting blogs (Check out hers!). More testament to the power of friendships built through quilting and binary code.

And thank-you to my readers here and fans of the book. Did you hear that we sold out of the first printing already? That is such a thrill to know there are so many people out there excited about their scraps and pretty quilts. Thank-you so much!

10 May, 2012

Binding, Binding, Binding

Lest you think I'm not getting anything quilty done, here is a pile of bindings. Two of these are out of the book and one is a precious baby quilt. One hand finished - in progress. One machine binding - in progress. One machine bound and ready for it's debut.

I'll admit, I can do machine binding, but I'm not a fan of it. I find them stiff and it somehow feels wrong to me to have that seam on the front. I just prefer the look of a hand finished binding, for my quilts. You can't however, knock the speed of doing it by machine and sometimes you just need to get things done. And there is a lot of satisfaction in getting a quilt from squared up to completely bound in only a few hours. There is a lot of enjoyment in sitting and stitching in rhythm too.

I guess I'm not one to judge.

07 May, 2012

Here and There

Okay folks. While it may seem quiet here lately, with good reason, I've been up to a few things. Here's a little update.

* Check out the Mompreneur feature interview I did with my friend Megan from The Art of Homemaking. I absolutely love her corner of the internet, you will too.

* I've updated my website with classes and events coming up. There are some great workshops booked and a few trunk shows. Remember, I'm available to travel and teach for you.

* Keep your eyes peeled for the next issue of Studios magazine. This next issue will feature the first of 3 articles on my basement studio development. They called it "The Seven Year Studio". Oh, so, so true.

* Don't forget about my upcoming launch party for Sunday Morning Quilts. This Friday evening at Traditional Pastimes.

* Next week I will announce my Quilt Market events for those of you going to Kansas City. I'm looking forward to that trip. (I'm bringing both the men in my life) and I get to hang out with Amanda Jean for only the second time!