January 2007

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The Ami Simms Newsletter
January 2007
Copyright by Ami Simms

So happy you made it to the web site to read the newsletter. "Hidden" somewhere on this very page(in plain sight, trust me) is that coupon code for 10% off anything on my website, but be sure to read the details.

It was about 4pm on Christmas Eve and I still hadn't finished Jen's quilt. My Bernina was humming. The feed dogs were down and I had the pedal to the metal. I was wearing my white cotton quilting gloves, the ones with the little rubber grippy nubs on the bottom, stippling between some free-form feathers when the doorbell rang. I raced to the door, threw it open, and there was our next door neighbor with some homemade bread for us! First thing out of her mouth was: "What are you, a MIME?!"

"Huh?" And then I looked down. There I was wearing a black turtleneck, black pants, black shoes, and the white quilting gloves! All I needed was the dopey face paint. Marcel Marceau, move over!

After reading about our Thanksgiving meal in Canada, where I referred to Canada as "the fine country to our north," Willi from Linden, Michigan wrote: "I enjoyed your newsletter, as always. Just a side note-while Canada is our fine neighbor to the North, if you dined in Windsor, I believe you traveled South. I believe that Detroit is the only place in the U.S. where you can look due south into Canada."

Willi is indeed correct; we did drive south to get to Canada. The journey was even more mind-boggling when one considers that we drove UNDER the Detroit River to get to Canada. Yes indeed, according to the official web page, "The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is the only vehicular international sub-aqueous border crossing in the world…" Say THAT fast 10 times.

I am, by the way, not completely RELAXED while driving through the tunnel. It's wet on the inside. For a tunnel under water, I think this is a bad thing. It's also way older than I am which does not inspire confidence. And, it's also not a straight shot. The dumb thing curves. It's also smelly; has only two lanes (one going each way), and no shoulder.

The only way I can tolerate it is to remind myself that tortellini in meat sauce awaits me on the other side. When I see light at the end of the tunnel, I'm much less anxious because if water started rushing in, I could run to the air. Yeah, rght. Assuming that the tunnel didn't cave in on top of me, or that I could even open the door (remember, no shoulder) to get out of the car. Never mind that I couldn't outrun a lawn sprinkler anymore let alone a tunnel full of gushing water. Besides, the fumes down there would probably kill me. Even so, I'm OK, relatively speaking, if I can see the "light."

I'd also like to register a complaint with US customs, who I'm sure are reading this. I don't mind begin grilled about where we've been or what I'm bringing back, but I do mind that I'm not allowed to bring my leftovers that contain meat back into the US. No kidding. I can bring back marinara, but not Bolognese. That's insane! Michigan actually imports garbage from Canada. No joke. They truck it across the border every day to bury in our landfills. (And we probably get paid for it.) Do you think there might be meat in the Canadian garbage???!! Yeeew!

I'll be teaching in this country during January, and can get everywhere I need to go without tunnels of any sort. I will probably be able to drive around with leftover spaghetti in my car and nobody will care!

On Tuesday January 16th I will be presenting a lecture on the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative in Kalamazoo, Michigan to the Kalamazoo Log Cabin Quilters. Bring your checkbooks as I'll be passing the hat. The following day (Jan 17th) I'll be doing a half day Invisible Applique workshop. Some spaces are still available. To attend the lecture, email Patsy (patsymiddaugh@hotmail.com). To take the workshop, email Karen (karenseumv@yahoo.com).

On January 18th through 20th, I'll be with the Capitol City Quilt Guild in Lansing, Michigan, presenting the World's Worst Quilts lecture, plus two workshops: String Quilting and How To Improve Your Quilting Stitch. For more information please contact Mary (harveym@msu.edu).

Speaking of teaching, I had the pleasure of teaching some of my husband's 8th graders how to sew early last month in a makeshift classroom upstairs. Click the link above to see "What's Up With Ami."

Is anyone living in the area, or willing to consider Flint, Michigan a "destination," interested in workshops by yours truly? Send me an email and I'll get a list going.

I am beyond thrilled to report that the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative has raised and donated $44,812.15 for research in 2006. The Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt auctions continue to be extremely successful thanks to generous quilters around the world who are donating AND buying quilts. Almost 700 quilts have been registered, and 629 of them have sold! The traveling quilt exhibit is bringing a difficult subject closer to many people, probably about 75,000 so far, and that is good news. It is only through awareness that we can learn empathy. And, hopefully with empathy comes commitment to finding a cure.

See four of the traveling quilts here.

There are 24 quilts being auctioned right now, thanks to Betty Price, Marsha McElroy, Mary Lambert Matton, Sue Weisshaupt, Betty Rogers, Kathy Kennedy-Dennis, Thomasene Everly, Sheila Wise, Eva Marie Thomas, Hope Covey, Linda Kuhlman, Sharon Choate, Mary Beard, Judith Kraus, Judy Breese, Nancy Brenan Daniel, Sylvia Showers, Diane Gould, and Martha Tsihlas. Please bid generously.

Remember, this effort is on-going. If you'd like to make a small (9" x 12" maximum) mini quilt to donate, know that it will make a difference.

This week I will announce the winner of the second Bernina aurora 440 sewing machine from among those Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts successfully sold or auctioned during 2006. I have TWO more Berninas to award for 2007!

1. Include a statement of support of the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative in your email signature and link it to www.AlzQuilts.org.

2. Make Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts one of your guild service projects.

3. Ask friends to make a donation to Alzheimer's research in lieu of birthday presents this year. Make checks out to the Alzheimer's Association, write RESEARCH on the memo line, and mail them to me so that the AAQI gets bragging rights. I will hand deliver them to the Alzheimer's Association.

4. Use Mom's hand-painted note cards

5. Give tax deductible dog kisses.

6. Print stickers for Road To California. (Details below.)

Road to California will host Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece January 18-21 at the Ontario Convention Center. If you are in the area, this is an awesome event, and the Alzheimer's quilts are spectacular. CDs of the exhibit will be available for sale at the show.

If you can White Glove the show, email Ann Louise Mullard Pugh.

If you have some time in the next few days to look up some email addresses for me (local newspaper, radio, television, Alzheimer's research facilities, assisted living, nursing homes, and Alzheimer's facilities, local legislators, etc.) email me.

And, here's the deal about the stickers. If you are going to the show and can print up address stickers to hand deliver, let me know. Think of the stickers you get that say I VOTED. You feel good to wear one and show that you voted, and it encourages others to make the effort and vote too. The Alzheimer's quilts are very emotional. Some people are afraid to see them because they don't know how they'll react to them, especially if they have a loved one with the disease. If we can "sticker" people who attend the exhibit, it will encourage people to talk about the quilts, to ask questions, to get more people to see them. I'll design the stickers; you print them and get them to the show.

We did this at the last exhibit venue until we ran out of stickers and it was very successful. Part badge of honor—part conversation starter. Win-win-win.

I am looking for one volunteer (or a dynamic duo) who will be attending the Mancuso show in February and is willing to be my gal on the ground as I can not attend that venue. They would be in charge of coordinating white glove volunteers for Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece, selling CDs, keeping track of CD sales, and they would act as my eyes and ears at the show. There is a little work before hand, and many hours at the show. Your foot won't be nailed to the floor the entire time, but workshops would be out. Cell phone required. Email me.

Here's a new twist on the "Whistle While You Work" concept. I brought my iron, schpritz bottle, a box of chocolates, music, and a suitcase of fabric that needed to be ironed when I went to visit Mom. We set up the facility's ironing board in the common area, plugged in the boom box, and "we" ironed. In between bites of chocolate, Mom sprayed the fabric with water as I held it for her in front of the spray bottle. We sang "a crap-ella" as we sprayed, ate, and ironed. I got some fabric flattened (always good), Mom helped, every last chocolate was consumed, and the other residents were amused by our musical variety show. In between fat quarters we actually got applauds! Be careful to ask before sharing sweets with other patients in case they are diabetic.

I just watched Ricky's second DVD workshop, called Grand Finale. It's excellent. I learned a ton of stuff including his secrets for "marking" feathers and other quilt designs, machine trapunto, piped bindings, quilt sandwiching, and a bunch of other stuff. I have to go back and watch again because I just noticed there are bloopers too. (How could I have missed that the first time?!)

You'll also want to head over to The Quilt Show to see who Ricky's mystery co-host will be.

Quilter Gayle Pritchard was interviewed on the Diane Rehm Show on Tuesday, December 12th about her new book, Uncommon Threads. You can download the podcast and give a listen.

If you care to thank Deane Rehm for interviewing one of our own, thus encouraging producers to consider other quilters to be interviewed on National Public Radio in the future, please email Diane. Please don't mention me…YET. I do have a plan. I just can't reveal it yet.

I'm all for gadgets. The iPod I unwrapped Christmas morning hasn't left my ears, but this might be a little much, even for me.

If you have an iPod and will be at the Road To California Show, email me.

I'm getting old. One sure sign is I prefer people in authority to have last names. My family doctor was AWOL last week and his temporary replacement introduced himself as "Bob." Not "Dr Bob" with an unpronounceable last name. Just plain "Bob." I mentally rolled my eyes.

He was dressed in scrubs, had a stethoscope around his neck, and said he usually hangs out in the emergency room at a nearby hospital. He looked the part, with a little gray around the side burns, but for all I knew he could have been the janitor. Any idiot can snag a pair of scrubs. Toys R Us sells stethoscopes.

I stifled my urge to ask, "Bob WHAT?" I didn't because, well, I'm much braver in this newsletter than I am in real life. And, besides, I was just there to go over some test results. My real doctor would be back next time. No examination was required which was a good thing because while Dr. With-A-Last-Name gets to see me without my clothes on, Bob does not.

Jack and Amy have shared two more letters. Plus I've updated their page with some more pictures.

I was re-runned on Simply Quilts the other day. I keep forgetting to check and see when I'm going to be on. This last episode was called Eye of the Beholder and you saw a quilt from my book, Picture Play Quilts.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! To get 10% off just about anything on this site, enter the coupon code URsewCLEVER when you check out. Questions: call 1-800-2784824 or email Debbie and Judy. Please note: Discount does NOT apply to any item raising money for Alzheimer's research.

Ann Nonymous has shared her stash. We all need to go out and buy more fabric. Hurry.

We have a new entry on the What Were They Thinking Page. I never tire of this.

Amy Lauderdale made two Picture Play Quilts.

And finally, there is a new Worst Quilt Wannabe.

Linda Franz has a new series of books-on-CD that will absolutely revolutionize the way you prepare patches for machine piecing, hand piecing and appliqué! Inklingo (patent pending) prints ultra-fine color lines on fabric with any ordinary color Inkjet printer--and the lines don't show in the finished quilt! It's as easy as printing an e-mail but Linda provides excellent illustrated instructions on each CD, and there is even a free video on her web site.

Inklingo prints cutting and stitching lines on fabric, and that eliminates measuring (and mistakes), tricky templates, funny markers, weird rulers and light boxes, plus it allows you to cut with a rotary cutter OR scissors. Every piece is aligned on straight grain (hooray), and dog ears are eliminated (except Madison's). Inklingo uses a tiny amount of ordinary Inkjet ink in 20 different colors which show on almost any fabric, and which are formulated to fade or wash out of the finished quilt.


Please do. Forward the ENTIRE thing to all your friends and even some of your enemies. Everybody enjoys a laugh or two. Please do NOT forward just part of it. Somehow my name gets dropped off when these things float through cyberspace and since I’m writing them for free, I should at least get credit for writing them. If you write a guild newsletter (real paper or online) and would like to “reprint” a particular part of the newsletter you must ask first. Here’s how.

Be good to each other, and make 2007 the best year ever!
Ami Simms