Stephanie Snodgrass

Having a ball

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A war, a deployment, and five teenagers-that's what lead me to my first quilting class. It was a an escape for me, where I could find paeace and friendship while my husband was deployed. As I finished my quilt tops, I would quilt the small ones but sent the larger ones out to be quilted. I had the oppourtunity to see a long-arm quilting machine when I took one of my larger quilts to a woman who was going to quilt it for me. After alot of questions about long-arm quilting, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I invested into an inexpensive mid-arm machine and was very frustrated with it. One day while in the local quilt shop, the owner told me he was going to carry the Handi Quilter quilting machine.I went on-line to see the machine he was talking about and was excited to see not only the features of the HQ Sixteen, but all the education and training you could get, which was very important to me. I was hooked! I ordered my HQ Sixteen and started turning out, in my opionion, beautiful quilts! About a year later I sold my HQ Sixteen and bought the HQ18 Avante. I have been quilting on HQ for about 3 years now. I have since gotten a job at the local quilt store and have the priveledge to demonstrate and teach others how to use the Handi Quilter quilting machine.In my spare time my family usually finds me in my sewing room happily quilting away on my HQ18 Avante8. Now I quilt for fun, for friends, and who knows, maybe one day I'll quilt for a living!

I own the following HQ machine: HQ18 Avante

Marsha Blakely


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Hello, I have a HQ Sixteen, I am just learning how to use this great machine, but I can tell you I am in love... I have completed three baby quilts and two king size quilts already. I don't have a lot of time to play, since I work full time, but I do enjoy this machine. I have used several different machines from various friends, but I really like my HQ.

I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sixteen

Patricia Brockton

My version of Red Onion pattern quilt.

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My long-arm machine is an HQ18 Avante. As a teen and young mother I had done some sewing for myself and kids, sewed draperies and pillows for cheap home decorating and even made simple tied quilts of squares for my toddler’s beds way back in the ’60’s. Later, with 3 children and a full time job as a H.S. art teacher, the sewing got put on the back burner. Later, a few years before I retired I took 3 quilting classes which were offered in our community education program and I was hooked. I started with a queen sized sampler, did a log cabin and then a “Storm at Sea”’ patterned quilt for my daughter and husband’s new home. Again, the new hobby got put on the back burner as we spent the first several years of retirement building our home and other out buildings along with all the inside finishing including cabinets; husband even did all the wiring and me, the plumbing. A new friend introduced me to quilt retreats and I was re-hooked! My first projects were hand quilted (the arthritis progressing in my hands rather limited me) and then I struggled with a big quilt on my regular Elna Quilter’s Dream. I bought a basic handi-quilter table top frame with a Juki machine, took a couple of classes and really enjoyed the process of quilting my own projects. I still was frustrated with the relatively small throat space, being able to only work on about 4 or 5 inches as the quilt was rolled up. And the frame’s poles were not as rigid as I would have liked. In 2010 I noticed a sewing shop in a nearby town was making their HQ18 Avante available to rent by the hour so my friend and I signed up - now I was hooked again. I did a queen sized project but it took most of the day - pure fun just meandering, but so fast! The problem was between working hard to get it done in one trip and driving 1 1/2 hrs each way, I found I ended up with lower back pain. Why? I was used to standing working at my machine at home but realized there I was taking breaks every half hour-45 minutes or so. I guessed I would have to plan to do just smaller projects on the rental machine. While there I took a packet to do a small challenge quilt sponsored by the sewing store for the area quilt show. Was I surprised when I won second place and a new sewing machine. Well, I already had 2 sewing machines plus my Juki so what to do . . . then my hubby suggested I trade that in toward a nice long-arm machine. It didn’t take too long to convince myself that was what I wanted to do. Jay, the store owner made me a good deal and within a couple of weeks he delivered and set up my new machine, the HQ18 Avante. I just love it and am enjoying trying out new free-hand patterns and practicing with templates. I use alot of designs with large blocks and it’s great being able to quilt them in their entirety. Even breaking my wrist this past February I managed to do a queen quilt top and then quilt it on my HQ18 Avante. The only part I couldn’t do one handed was getting it pinned to the leaders but again had an understanding spouse. It sure helped on those long days when I couldn’t do much else! I am not really yearning for a computerized machine - I like to have personal creative control over the designing - ask my quilt friends - they know I dislike strictly following patterns!

I own the following HQ machine: HQ18 Avante

Joanne Wilson Lendaro

Me and HQ Celebrity

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As I prepared to write this year’s HQ Story entry, I knew I wanted to submit something different, something personal. I like to think that “different” is my style.  Last year, my entry was more about “why I do what I do,” and I explained how I view myself as an option for quilters to get their tops finished without having to feel the pressure of making a “show” quilt.  I enjoy working on quilts that aren’t so perfect, quilts that were made by the not-so-serious quilter.  With that being said, I am often given the opportunity and have worked on more than my fair share of “perfect” quilts.
I own an HQ Sixteen, now with a HQ Pro-Stitcher.  Without my machine, I would have never felt comfortable quilting for others.  Now I enjoy quilting for others and hearing the incredible stories behind their special quilts.  
This Year I reached out to see what others thought of my quilting services. I was interested in how they felt and what they thought about my quilting. I was surprised by the response that I received.  I got a few “thank you for quilting at such low prices,” but I wasn’t prepared for two stories from individuals whose lives I had touched in a ways I could have never imagined.  As quilters, we are given the opportunity to touch so many lives with our quilting and often never realize the impact that we may have.  I am humbled that what I considered to be an ordinary task could have moved someone else so deeply.
Here are the two stories:
I am the mom of five kids....it is my mantra and the most important thing I've done in my entire life. I've survived a lot and I've managed to earn a master's degree and become a nurse practitioner while working and raising those five kids. They were my cheerleaders, my support team, the ones who hugged me each time I reached a new level of success....they were my life.
In 2008 my number 4 child, my youngest son, woke up in acute liver failure. He required a liver transplant within 12 weeks. He had been completely healthy up to that point. During the process of the liver failure and the transplant my son's bone marrow also failed. After the liver transplant we thought we were home free but that was not to be. Ten weeks later my son developed a horrible infection in his colon and went into septic shock. This required emergency surgery to remove part of his colon and an ileostomy and life support for eight days. We survived that. Now the bone marrow failure became the major problem. This required twice weekly drives to Cedars Sinai for blood and platelet transfusions, a 100 mile round trip drive. There were multiple hospitalizations for infections and bowel obstruction and finally a reversal of the ileostomy after six months. My 21 year old son had had THREE major operations within 18 months.
I was going crazy and I was terrified. I had to quit my jobs in order to take care of my son. Every night I shared what was going on in my day with my scrapping groups. It was a way to pour out my pain and I received so much support. One day I received something in the mail. It was the most beautiful quilt and was signed by so many wonderful ladies. The quilt was made to show support for me and what I was going through. I sat down and bawled when I got it. I took it to work to show everyone. The fact that Joanne had somehow managed to put this together amazed me. It was so heartfelt and loving. It was just what I needed and she knew it. I still look at that quilt and feel so loved when I see it.
Joanne's support did not end after that quilt. After everything my son endured, his bone marrow failure converted to acute mylogenous leukemia, "A grim prognosis" as stated by his doctor. Dimitri died 10 weeks later of septic shock on 8/9/10 related to an infection in his lungs. Joanne continued to support me with her many email "hugs" and I appreciate it.
I can't thank her enough for the beautiful quilt and massive support and the funny thing is that I've known her for years on the inter net yet I've never met her in person. She is truly special!
Shirley
 
Shirley is a wonderfully strong lady and her story reminded me that everyone quilts for different, usually very personal, reasons.  We often quilt to show support or to show that we care.  Quilters will work together to construct a quilt needed for someone or something special.
The second story I wasn’t prepared for was from Kurt:
Life - is.   And each life, here on earth, will end.   For us all.  Eventually.   We learn this slowly through living, and we may try to prepare ourselves for that eventuality... by living well, by making art or giving gifts, spending time with our parents, spending time with our children, spending a date with our spouse, by accepting a faith in a God, by....something. We just - do... It's the one bit of sanity that most of us do in this insane world - that we never speak of, or confront of directly in our selves. But one ending is something we are never prepared for. One ending contradicts all that we spend years striving towards. One ending sucks the air from your lungs, and pushes you to the ground with a force you've never seen. One ending leaves you waking each morning, for months on end,...listening for a stirring sound,...wondering if you've just awakened from the most horrible nightmare in your life. And then realizing that you are living that nightmare. That is the loss of a child. That time you spent - with the child, was for them to be able to deal with the ending of you, someday. Not the other way around. I lost my son, Noah, in 2009. He broke from of his earthly bonds in a sudden manner, slipping into a waterfall, merely feet from a loving cousin, and within yelling distance of his mother. He fell so suddenly that the turned head missed the slip, forcing the mind to think that he must have walked behind. He fell suddenly but in a place where recovering him could not be done without endangering others. He fell in a place where local rescue teams walked hours in Alpine pastures and woods looking for him ...and helicopters followed racing rivers looking for some sign of his body. But though his ending was definite...and refused to abide our prayers for his safe return, we would not get his body brought home for another 3 weeks or more.
Shattered, the mother, the family members and I went on.  We recognized a need to share our grief with the community. The church and his friends and their parents and our friends held us aloft for a time. The mind does not function. The heart is crushed...raw, torn, leaking life, wanting so much to stop, to rest, if it could.   Finally, Noah came home from afar. With his sacred, but battered human shell came large bills.  The bills were not excessive for what was done, but the efforts of so many searchers and so much equipment and expertise cost much. And the man who had wrapped him in a beautiful wooden box for the trip home, needed to be paid for the care he provided.   The church, once again, wrapped its love around us, holding an auction to pay for the bills.   A friend from my youth, Joanne Wilson Lendaro,
seeing that help was needed,
sent a call on her quilting blog,
explaining the need,
asking for quilted squares from readers,
defining the designing,
and pulling together a wondrous work of art - a beautiful quilt of hearts, of colors, of childhood objects. 
She and her readers worked magic in so little time.   Noah's mother and I looked at the gifted quilt with quiet awe.  The quilt immediately brought to mind treasured memories of our boy - of balloons, and M&Ms, of bright colored coats and clothes, his name in threaded color on this soft, lovely canvas.    It was as though Joanne and her group had sewn our memories into cloth. The coming together of so many hands, the stitching, the crafting - the gift of it all - and dedicated to our son, brought tears when we viewed it. Both of us desired so much to keep this for ourselves, but the gift was to be auctioned and the purchaser gave us a gift that we needed to repay those that helped bring our boy home.  The quilt brought one of the highest prices that night of the auction.  We needed the money greatly.  That night the people and the church raised $28,000 for our bills. It was beyond our belief that this could be It was done through the gifts of love and talent like this quilt for Noah.  Thank you, Joanne, for the art that you did, for the way that you created a gift from many, for the incredible, beautiful quilt
Kurt

I received blocks for Kurts quilt from all over world.  It is amazing how this hobby can bring so many people together for a special cause. 
Here are a just four more of the many wonderful responses that I received:
Where do I begin about Joanne and her quilting!  Let’s see!  Joanne did a fabulous job on one of my quilts.  She took the time to teach me how to use her HQ so I could take the information and apply it to the system I had that was going unused.  I could finally use my system after it sat idle for too long.  She also volunteered to quilt our little quilting groups’ Quilts For Kids quilts for no charge.  I know others do those quilts for free, but do they also use their own batting, apply the binding and then mail them on to Quilts For Kids at no charge.  I doubt it! But Joanne does!  That is Joanne!  I am proud to call her one of my best friends! 
Rhonda P

I own the following HQ machines: HQ Pro-Stitcher, HQ Sixteen

Patti Lee

Batik Bag Ladies

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I still remember the feeling of pride and accomplishment I had upon completing my first project when I learned to knit at age 10. For the next 25 years I dabbled in projects including sewing, crochet, cross stitch, basket weaving, tole painting. In 1985, I was introduced to hand quilting; the enthusiasm and passion for quilting remains strong because of ever changing techniques, patterns, tools, and love for fabrics. After concerns that arthritis would change my pastime, I began more machine piecing and then machine quilting on my domestic machine. As much as I loved quilting, I didn’t love the achiness in my shoulders after struggling to move the quilt around limited by the throat size. Once retired, I felt that I deserved a sewing machine that was new for me—a machine with a stitch regulator and perhaps a wider throat. After researching and comparing my options, I went to my local quilt shop prepared to order a new sewing machine. A spur of the moment decision was made to order an HQ18 Avante quilting machine instead of a sewing machine. (I was familiar with the HQ, having taken training at my local shop and then renting time on the HQ Sweet Sixteen at this shop.) With my new HQ18 Avante, I got my stitch regulator—it’s wonderful. No regrets on this spontaneous decision. It is great to have the time to practice and improve without reserving a rental time. Having Fibromyalgia, it is great to be able to work in shorter time increments, shutting the door when I’m fatigued or “achy.” My “studio” is the smallest bedroom in our house, so I ordered the adjustable table. It accommodates the size of quilts I make. I was able to set up the machine myself. (If and when we move, I’ll get the studio space befitting my Avante.) In the meantime, I’m grateful to have this amazing machine. My husband can spend all the time he wants golfing, because I have more quilt time. In the first six months of having the HQ, I quilted everything in sight—UFO’s, re-quilting old pieces, small projects like pillows, table runners, Linus Project, etc. My mantra was practice, practice, practice. I decided no more time-consuming applique quilts for a while because I wanted to focus on the quilting, not making tops. When I wasn’t preparing tops or quilting, I was searching the internet for videos (yea HQ website and QNN’s Quilt It!) and searching for pantographs to add to my repertoire that would work for my freehand style. My new dream is a Pro Stitcher—but I tell myself I can show my true creativity using freehand patterns. There’s a world of information on line. One hint I acted on was to volunteer to longarm charity quilts, specifically Quilts of Valor (QOV). Besides the feeling of accomplishing something worthwhile while quilting for such a deserving cause, I’m challenged to move away from my comfort zone (hearts, flowers and feathers). From the time each (QOV) quilt arrives in the mail, I agonize over what pattern will enhance the tops; not wanting to shortchange the deserving recipients. This stretches my talents and has also improved my confidence. I’m using my new ruler base and S-curve ruler on my current QOV quilt. I look forward to playing with the micro handlebars I’ve just ordered. I’m designing my own QOV top at the moment to give to a friend who retired from the military before the inception of the QOV Foundation; he still suffers periodically from malaria he acquired during the Viet Nam era. I hope my quilt for him will show that people still care and appreciate his sacrifice. In this past year, my HQ 18 Avante has expanded my quilting horizons more than I would have anticipated. I’ve been creating more, marketing patterns for my new designs, selling and donating quilts (QOV, Susan G. Komen, Project Linus), and I’ve been enlisted to teaching quilt classes. What started as a way of practicing new stitches led to making batik tote bags. I gave tote bags for Christmas, birthday and “just because” gifts if someone needs encouragement. People have stopped me on the street (in the fabric store, in waiting rooms, parking lots, etc.) to compliment me on my bag. By keeping business cards handy I have sold enough bags to keep me in more fabric. My friends joke that we don’t need Red Hats for our shopping forays and travels, we all have similar batik totes and we call ourselves the Batik Bag Ladies. (If our husbands weren’t such nice guys, they could derogatorily call us the Batik Old Bags.) I consider my HQ a health positive. I’m staying active (mind and body), staying involved and this keeps my hands away from the nibbles. At any given time I have a number of projects in the works, so I laugh when people ask me if I’m bored in retirement. There aren’t enough hours in the day. While I’m doing activities unrelated to quilting, I’m planning my next quilt project or organizing something to streamline my time. The HQ is more than my ultimate toy; it is bringing me a sense of accomplishment and validation. I can show my appreciation to others by making a tangible, “blankets of love.”

I own the following HQ machine: HQ18 Avante