Thursday, March 26, 2009

Meet the Art Birds

A year ago we ran a Beginning Art Quilts class which was a great success. The gals had so much fun they didn't want to stop! So we formed a monthly Art Quilt club that ended up being named the Art Birds. Each month the members teach each other a new technique and show off the wonderful new pieces of art cloth they've made. It is incredibly inspiring! In February they spent the day working on stamping and stenciling fabrics.

The emphasis was on simply learning new techniques, not creating a specific end product. The group finds this both challenging and liberating at the same time! As quilters in general, it seems that we too often get caught up in the mentality of having to account for all the materials and time we invest in our avocation. Meaning we think everything thing we touch needs to end up in some sort of quilted product. But, the way to grow and develop as any style of quilter involves being willing to take chances on new things - experimenting. The photo on the left demonstrates this. Joan was working on layering images on her fabric. The question frequently asked is, "Well, what are you going to use if for?" The answer should be "I'm using it to learn something new." Take a chance today. Try something new, and don't plan to use whatever it is for anything other than learning!

posted by Angela

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Win This Fabric

Yup - here it is, a nifty little bundle of 8 beautiful 100% cotton oriental fabrics. Each fabric piece is about 6 1/2" x 9 1/2" - just enough to have a little fun! Read the next post to learn how to win!

Name That Bag!

I can't think of a name for our new handbag! Help us come up with a great name and win a collection of 8 Oriental Fabrics. E-mail us at with your name suggestions. Our highly intelligent staff of good-looking, incredibly talented, and fun loving quilters will choose the name. The contest will end at midnight on the last day of March. The winner will be notified by the firing of canons, fireworks and a parade. Just kidding... We'll let you know by e-mail!
posted by Angela

Our Own Pattern Design!

It's a first! Ever since Amy and I opened Yellow Bird Art we discussed designing our own patterns. Ten years ago I designed and made one of a kind handbags that I sold at art fairs and our NE Iowa Studio Tour. Then fate intervened and I couldn't design or spend time sewing. Well, I'm back! I love designing - thinking through the construction issues is my favorite part. Well, except maybe for picking fabrics, trims and buttons. And watching the drawing come into physical reality!
Yellow Bird Art is participating in a spring bus tour on May 1 and 2 called the Bag Lady Express. The tours will visit primarily Top 10 quilt shops in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is a terrific opportunity to visit some of the best quilt shops in the Midwest! I figured since it was a Bag Lady trip that I could design a new handbag for the tour participants.
The bag is about 19" at it's widest and about 16" H, not including the strap. There is a large exterior front pocket, and two roomy pockets inside. The front pocket and top band are secured with magnetic snaps. The handle, which I'm very pleased with, uses a slider so that you can shorten the strap to carry the bag like a handbag, or lengthen the strap to carry the bag from your shoulder, or across your chest so you can be hands-free. The front pocket features foundation pieced fabrics and is trimmed with beaded ribbon from India. The top band is Matka silk for some nice texture and the button is an awesome vintage button I found at my secret button source.
All the ladies who go on the trip will receive a FREE copy of this pattern. I would guess that shops will have kits to sell also. You'll be able to purchase the pattern from Yellow Bird Art after the bus tour is over. I know we have 41 excited participants signed up already, so if you've been hesitating, hurry and give us a call. You can go to to get more details about the tour!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Dog we Loved

And they break your heart...

Diego loved life. He was the most enthusiastic, optimistic and joyful dog I've ever lived with. He'd had a rough start in life - Amy and I found him living in filthy conditions at the Eccentric Dog Man's collection of dogs. We cajoled and begged until the Eccentric Dog Man said we could buy him for $75.00. Diego began living with Amy, but it became apparent after several months that the long hours Amy puts in at Yellow Bird Art and Diego's deep need for consistent affection and training wasn't working for either of them. So, he came home to live with me. Our shepherd mix, BD (beautiful dog, another rescue from the Eccentric Dog Man) immediately took on Diego as though she were his dog nanny. He was housebroken within a week because he watched the other three dogs. BD spent endless hours playing with Diego and working off all that incredible Jack Russel energy. She disciplined him when he went too far and he had the nip scars on the top of his head to show for it. The hours of silly dog play filled our home with joy.

Over the year and a half that Diego lived with us, we witnessed a wonderful dog emerging from whatever his past had been. He was the funniest dog I've ever met, and maybe one of the smartest. I only realized a couple of months ago that he had picked me as his human. He spent the night in his crate in our bedroom (he would zip into his crate when we called "time for bed"), and when George would get up in the morning he'd let Diego out of the crate and my sweet dog would leap onto the bed, wiggle under the covers and snuggle up close to my body for the next hour of sleep. He'd follow me all around the house, and when I was sitting he'd want to hop up onto my lap, or he'd lay on the floor with his nose pressed on top of my feet while I was on the computer. He just learned how to go up and down the steep stairs, and was so excited to zoom up the stairs in front of me and then position himself at my computer chair, waiting for me to catch up, all the while wagging his tail so fast that you couldn't see it, and his little butt wiggling back and forth on the floor.

Diego's faults were that he never gave up on chasing my two cats, and his determined love affair with vehicle tires. Yesterday about noon our young neighbors were heading out of the valley in their truck. They didn't see or hear Diego, they just heard a thump. I was working outside and I heard Diego's cry. As I was rushing towards their truck, Nate was running towards me as Hallie climbed down into the ditch. Diego was alive, and we put him of the front seat of my car, and I drove the quickest drive ever to Waukon. I could hear Diego's labored and gurgling breath all the way there. The vet quickly examined Diego, and put him in an oxygenated crate. X-rays showed no broken bones, so we were encouraged. George went to town and saw Diego twice - the vets said they were hopeful and were trying to get Diego calmed down enough to remove some of the fluids in his chest. Fifteen minutes before George got home, I got the phone call. Diego had just died from internal bleeding.

Something happened to me, being Diego's human, that hasn't been so deep and intense with all the other pets I've shared my life with. I think it was seeing this unsocialized dog come into his own, and to simply observe his incredible for enthusiasm for living. George and I spent the entire evening yesterday weeping and had a weeping night without much sleep. This morning we made a silent drive into Waukon to pick up Diego. He was in a big black plastic bag in a cardboard box. When we got out to the car I asked George to get Diego out of the box and bag. I wrapped him in his green blanket and held his body on the drive home. We both cried all the way home. Nate and Hallie met us and we walked out to the sand hill where we have buried the pets we've loved the past 25 years. George, Nate and Hallie dug the little grave deep. We placed him in his grave wrapped up in his green knit blanket and said a few words. He was a great little dog with a huge heart and we loved him deeply. We will miss him more than words can say.
- Angela

Sweet Diego

I've never met a dog who made me laugh so much. On the day I took this picture, he'd managed to grab a spool of wool thread and mangle it completely- he was so satisfied with his creation and so proud. We were cracking up (although not thrilled that he'd chosen a $7 spool of thread).
Diego was smart, joyful, funny, and a great snuggler. We miss him.
- Amy