July 2009

The Ami Simms Newsletter
July 2009
Copyright by Ami Simms

Wow! Summer has certainly come to Michigan. I'm thrilled we actually had spring for a few days before it hit. Now begins the Season of Fans. There are about 8 blowing at any one time around here; more if I'm having a hot flash. My favorite one is at the foot of the bed. If I'm not careful and the sheet un-tucks, it flies off the bed on its own power. If I hold the bottom hem between my toes, angle it just right to get the current underneath, I can make it flap like Old Glory in a stiff wind. Noisy, but entertaining.

I was storing some quilts downstairs and came across several of the quilts I made for Picture Play Quilts. I really like that book. In it I got to share what I learned as a second grade school teacher (my first career) while exercising my creativity with fabric (my second career). It was very satisfying to write.

I hadn't really been a fan of "conversational" fabric before because it didn't seem to GO with anything except more conversational fabric. When it finally dawned on me that quilts could be learning tools for children, I was all over it. I amassed quite a collection as I designed more than a dozen easy-to-make quilts for the book. Now it's time to thin the herd. (Hold that thought for a minute.)

The two dozen games I shared in Picture Play Quilts were games Mom taught me (and I played with Jennie) and language arts activities I did with my students in the classroom. The satisfaction of that book for me as an author was imagining quilters on their hands and knees with their quilts and their kids or grandkids. It was the interaction, the play, facilitated by a quilt--- the very symbol of comfort, love, and home--- that felt so good.

Many readers have written requesting permission to photo-transfer the games onto the back of the quilts they make. Sure, go ahead. Others have made pockets on the front or back for photocopies of "game" pages 35-37. Great idea; be my guest. And yes, these make fantastic quilts for those children who are the beneficiaries of your guild's service projects. Go for it. I think every quilter knows a child somewhere who would appreciate a Picture Play Quilt.

Let me make it really easy for you. From now until noon EDT on Thursday, July 2 you can buy as many copies of Picture Play Quilts as you want for 50% off. And, the first 50 people who order will get a chunk of conversational fabric from my stash. After you order yours, tell your friends. All of them. Order now.

Why the short window of opportunity? Debbie processes all the orders. Her vacation starts on Friday. If you order fast she can get your book out before the holidays. If not, you get me. I stink at orders. I take forever and I make mistakes. Then I quit. If you don't order before noon on Thursday the 50% discount will disappear and you'll have to wait for Debbie to come back to work on July 13th. If we're swamped with orders you may have to wait for Debbie anyway.

It's time to find out what you've been missing if you don't read my blog. (It's called Through The Eyes of a Quilter.) First of all, you would have heard about my sale a whole 24 hours earlier. June also included stories about a mopey dog, my compulsion to always have something to do on a trip, my interview with the local newspaper, the vintage quilt auction, and hotel freebies.

What's next? You'll just have to wander over to my blog and take a look.

But that takes way too much effort, doesn't it? Why don't you sign up to get my blog sent to you (pictures and everything) as an email? Sign up here with this handy dandy Email Subscription Request. You do have to know what your own email address is and then type some wonky looking letters (you get as many chances as you need for both), then confirm by email.

So if blogging is like a journal, Twitter is like an interesting sentence. It's called micro-blogging and the trick is to convey what's going on in 140 characters or less. Actually, the trick is to write something that someone actually cares about. Anyone. I have to refrain from announcing every time I open a new can of tuna.

Writing something entertaining with 140 characters is more difficult than you think. I'll try once every couple of days. I think I did OK two days ago with a "tweet" about all the auction quilts shipping out. I included a picture of them all stacked up. It was pretty impressive. I particularly liked the tweet just before that one. It was an appreciative statement about my lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, again with photo. Fascinating, I know. But if you think I'm boring, you should read tweets by Ashton Kutcher.

He has more than 2 million people reading his tweets. I have 115. But I use real words and punctuate appropriately. And, I don't tweet as often, something Mr. Kutcher might want to consider if he wants me to follow him.

I will strive to improve my tweeting, believing that those who make up my meager following deserve only my best effort. Closer to the truth is that they probably signed up to follow me accidentally and forgot the password to their Twitter account.

Care to join them? Follow me on Twitter.

Yes, I'm on Facebook too.

This social networking stuff is SO confusing. I know less about Facebook than I do about Twitter. Apparently I have 456 friends, most of whom I have never heard of. I will friend anyone, so if your ego is hurting, know that I won't say 'no.'

I am determined to figure out Facebook because Steve's aunt is on Facebook and she's 95! Doggone it, if Aunt Clara can figure it out, so can I! (Hi, Aunt Clara!)

Facebook also has a page for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, and I have figured out how to post updates there. If you're on Facebook, please join the AAQI cause and then ask all your friends to join too:

I'm also on FindAQuiltTeacher.com because I created it. Duh!

It's a site to make finding the perfect teacher for your guild easier. You get to see over 100 teachers from local to international, all in one place. Find them by last name or by location. Read their bios, see how long they've been teaching, what their specialty is, and sometimes what people have said about them! Follow the link to their web page, email them, or (if you are a subscriber) download their Teacher Fact Sheet.

Teacher Fact Sheets really make your job easier. It's a standard one-page document that has all the information about the teacher presented in a consistent format. You can compare apples to apples. Teacher Fact Sheets have expanded contact information, other professional experience, the teacher's most popular lectures and workshops, expenses, travel and lodging requirements, and contract preferences. How long would that take you to find, bouncing around from web page to web page, then copying and pasting? At FindAQuiltTeacher.com it's all at your fingertips. With all the time you save you might even have time to quilt!

Are you a quilting teacher? Can you think of any reason why you wouldn't want your information at FindAQuiltTeacher.com? I can't either. That's where people are looking for teachers. Network better. Work smarter. Catchy, huh? Check it out!

If you are a listed teacher or subscribed event planner (guild, shop, conference) than you were able to read posts about a free service to make conference calls, how to see what people copy and paste from your web site, how to have an email sent to you whenever any web site on the Internet includes your name (or any phrase you decide) for free, and how to pull 150 pounds of luggage easily with one hand. Listed teachers also had the opportunity to alert guilds and shops that they have room to add on to existing bookings to cut down on travel expenses. Shops and guilds were able to advertise for teachers with a particular specialty or from a specific locale.

Non-subscribers were just able to read the non-passworded posts, which were also pretty good because they were about:

The July auction is up and going as of very early this morning. There are 26 quilts, all very special, raising money for Alzheimer's research. Please bid generously and bid often. And tell your friends. That would include all your friends on Facebook and all your Twerps. Tweeters? Twitters? Whatever you call the people who read your tweets on Twitter. Here's a special short URL to use: http://tinyurl.com/nr6k8o

My hope is to take at least 1,000 Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts to Houston International Quilt Festival in October. It's our biggest sales opportunity all year. Last year we brought in $45,000 in four and a half days for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. All profit funds research.

So far we have fewer than 500 quilts. Yikes! Can you help us reach our goal? Click here to learn how to donate a Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt.

In order to have time enough to receive, process, photograph, tag, and ship the quilts to Houston, we need to have them in our hands no later than September 1st. That gives you about 6 weeks. The push is on! Please ask your friends, family, and fellow quilters to help by old fashioned face-to-face contact, in regular old emails, via blogs and web pages, and by using any type of new-fangled social networking web sites you can navigate safely. Thank you!

Marla Ostrowski made two Twisted Sisters quilts.

Sheron Snyder made a Twisted Sisters quilt.

And so did Pat Lipscomb.

I'll be teaching three workshops and presenting a lecture at the AQS Quilt Expo in Des Moines, IA, October 28-October 31. I'll also be participating in the All Star Review on the 31st. There were a few details omitted from the printed registration booklet. They should be in the online version, but until that appears, please read this.

I'll be teaching in Florida in November at the World Quilt Show Florida in West Palm Beach. Dates are November 13-15. Registration is now open. Hurry so you get the classes you want.

At five minutes and six seconds after 4:00 AM on the 8th of July this year, the time and date will be

04:05:06 07/08/09

It is useless information, but impressive nonetheless. Note: you do not need to stay up very late or get up very early to personally witness this event in order to enjoy it.

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.

Enjoy the sunshine and warm weather; it will be gone all too soon!

Ami Simms