Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Last May Machine Quilting Showcase allowed us to present Quilts to veterans as the final part of the Quilter's Rule Tool Challenge. For those of you who do not receive ON TRACK as a part of you membership to International Machine Quilting Association; or were unable to be at the first MQS show in Cedar Rapids, this is you opportunity to see the action. You can read the article "Quilts of Valor at MQS" by Kathy Eubanks by following the link below:
As many of you know we lost a home for the Quilter's Rule Tool Challenge when we shut down the Machine Quilting Today Show in favor of the Machine Quilting Showcase in Cedar Rapids, IA. Patricia, Devlin and I were so happy when Machine Quilters Showcase allowed Quilter's Rule to enter a partnership with them to provide a home for the Quilter's Rule Tool Challenge.
Supporting veterans and for me especially the Vietnam War veterans is a special opportunity to see how men and women are affected when they are given a quilt and having someone thank them for their service. For so many of these service members this is the first time they have been thanked for their service after they risked everything in a very unpopular war.
When I received mine I was stunned and was unable to speak for a while. It changed how I thought about my time spent in Vietnam. It is now 43 years since I came home from that war. This year for the very first time I put on a cap that say Vietnam Veteran. For me that was a huge hurdle. Well a baby step is better than no step at all. Now I own two caps!
So now is my time to ask for your help. If you are touched by the article please go to the following link:
Enter our tool challenge and make a quilt for a veteran. Say thanks to a veteran feel great about yourself. If you make a quilt and will be attending MQS the year it is given away and you so desire I will invite you to the stage to help with the presentation.
Make your plans now to attend Machine Quilter's Showcase in Cedar Rapids, May 11 -14, 2016. Take some classes, shop the vendors, attend the QOV presentation, stay for the auction and support the education efforts of MQS. Have some fun.
Thursday, September 3, 2015
As all of you know, last year we shut down Machine Quilting Today LLC, a machine quilting show in Oconomowoc, WI. We never relinquished the Website name or the Facebook page and we continued to maintain the mailing list. Now we are into the second year of inactivity and folks continue to visit the Website and like the Facebook page. I have hesitated long enough. It is time to do something with both of them.
For a long time I thought seriously about just shutting both down, after all they were done and I was through with them. But I really like the name! And I understood a lot of time, effort and money had gone into building these audiences. To dump them would mean I would have to start over building an audience of essentially the same people with an idea I had thought about for Quilter's Rule for a long time.
Yes, I will be changing the direction and mission of both the Website and the Facebook page. The focus will continue to be machine quilting and education. I think that most people will be satisfied! But surely some will object to the direction I have planned. If people object they do not have to visit the website. They can ask to be removed from the mailing list. They can unlike the Facebook page. They can unfriend me. All of which have happened in the past and I do not take it personally. It’s just a part of life in the business world and Social Media.
In the next few weeks you will start seeing changes on both starting with this announcement on my blog, Travels with Quilter’s Rule. So what do we have planned? The answer to that question is probably more then we can ever accomplish. But like all difficult things if you do not try you will accomplish nothing. You will just have to wait and see.
The first thing we have accomplished is to change the name of the Facebook page from Machine Quilting Today, LLC to Machine Quilting Today. Not earth shattering news but it is a start.
To be continued....
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Quilter’s Rule is negotiating with a contractor to build a new website. We know that our current site is hard for some people to use. We would like to make the site easy to use for the majority of folks who come to the site. We further understand that we will never satisfy everyone, so we are attempting to satisfy the majority of users.Under normal circumstances we only hear negative comments about our website. When folks are satisfied they enter the site, make a purchase and leave. You can help by telling us what would make you positive experience even better.
We would like to know how you use our site.Why do you use our site?
How do you find items on our site?What would make the site easier for you to use?
What do you look for when you go to a site?What can we add to make the site better?
What should we remove from the site?Thank you so much for your help!
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Today is a very sad day in my life. This afternoon I will lose a friend and companion. For 15 years Scamp has been an important part of my life. I purchased her for my wife, but she decided to choose me as her human; maybe because I get up early and would feed her while the rest of the family slept, or because I took her to the barn in the morning when I fed the rest of the critters, or because we just liked to sit quietly in the morning with that first cup of coffee.
When our previous collie had died we waited a long time before we decided to get another. I still remember when she came to the house. Scamp was born in Florida at a kennel Eloise tracked down that had collies related to a line of collies that carried the Belhaven name. We waited for six months for a female tri colored collie to be born. By then it was the middle of the winter and very cold in the upper Midwest. We had to wait for the temperature to moderate enough for the airline to allow her to fly. The night she was coming in we drove to Chicago and arrived at O’Hare before she left Orlando. It was a very long wait, but Eloise had been without a collie for almost 2 years and it was time. When she finally got to us we got her out of the crate and have never been successful in getting her back into one. I carried her up the escalator and the stairs and she sat on my lap in the tram. She sat in Eloise’s lap for the ride home.
At any rate, since I worked close to home, it was my job to go home at noon and walk Scamp and make sure she was okay. Well that lasted for about a week and I decided that it would be easier to just take her to work. After all I owned the company and I could do that if I wanted. So in the car she went and off to work we went. For the last 15 years she has be coming to work with me. By now you can tell she is not Eloise’s dog. She choose me.
When I was a town chairman, she went to meetings with me. She would lay under the table until I was done and then she went home with me. Until I gave up being the chairman she was welcome at the town hall. When I quit they immediately passed a rule that only service dogs were allowed in the town hall. Just one of many reason I dislike twofaced politicians. But that is a totally different discussion.
For the last several months, Scamp has steadily gone downhill. She now falls on floors without carpets, she cannot negotiate steps without falling. Her body functions are starting to shut down. When she looks at me she just looks and seems sad. I think she knows her life is about over. Why do we put ourselves through this sort of traumatic crisis? Dog simply do not live as long as we do.
Last week I called Dr. Stewart and talked with her. Then I made the decision it was time. Last night I prepared a grave for Scamp next to the flagpole in our front yard. This afternoon Scamp will go to sleep and never wake up. This is the consideration I wish I could have when I get old and unable to care for myself.
Please don’t be too sad for me. About 15 months ago, I purchased another collie from Florida. Her name is Shawnee and she is nothing like Scamp but she is related. I will miss my friend.
Monday, July 13, 2015
Now that I am home two weeks after The Vermont Quilt Show I have cooled off to the point I can at least talk about it. I have wasted most of that time learning about and trying to comply with a regulation that was never intended for me.
Patricia and I were on our way home minding our own business and we had just crossed out of New Your into Pennsylvania and we stopped at the welcome center to go to the bathrooms. We were flagged down by a guy with a PUC cap and had to go through a DOT inspection. It seems that the GVW, that’s gross vehicle weight or more correctly the GCW the gross combined weight of our Suburban and trailer is greater than 10,001 pounds and we are engaged in interstate commerce. Of course I know that but if you carry your products in your personal vehicle and not in someone s for hire vehicle there is a difference.
So I have spent the past two weeks getting square with the violations we committed.
1) No Log Book.
2) No fire extinguisher
3) No warning triangles
4) No Medical Card
5) No DOT number on our vehicle
Today Quilter’s Rule is a Motor Freight Carrier in addition to being a manufacturer. And we have lots of additional restrictions on our activity. We are restricted to driving no more than 11 hours a day between the two of us. We have 14 hours each day to complete the 11 hours behind the wheel. We must be off duty and resting for at least 10 hours. We have to keep a log book; we must carry a medical card stating we can drive. That physical for the medical card was a joke. My Medicare annual physical is better, but does not count. Patricia has to renew biannually but because I have high blood pressure I have to renew annually. The doctor spent less than 10 minutes with me.
So what does all this mean? First and foremost some shows will not be as economically feasible, as they were before. California is now a 4 day trip instead of 2 ½ days. We will have additional expenses for lodging and food. Some shows will be impossible because we cannot drive as many hours and cannot make the trip in time. We cannot count nap time in the front seat to extend our driving time. We can work no more than 70 hours in a week and drive. I am a business owner, if I want to work hard, it is my choice. I do not need a government to tell me to back off.
I understand why these regulations are in place, but Quilter’s Rule is not really a Motor Carrier. We have simply been caught in the cross hairs of a regulation to prevent an owner from abusing his employees, and a Government trying to keep the public safe. I share the road with 18 wheelers, I understand how dangerous the roads can be. I slow down for icy conditions, rain, snow, high winds and at night. I pull off and sleep when I am tired and get up and go when I am rested. Resting does not take 10 hours.
I resent my government telling me how hard I can work.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Here I sit in my hotel room in Richfield, OH watching a snowplow working in the parking lot. It is Saturday morning and this may be the best day of the week. Patricia is downstairs teaching a Template Design class; Devlin is in South Beloit, IL at a class on how to make Damascus steel.
Let me tell you about my week. First and foremost, we are on the last half of winter and normally the weather is much warmer. For those of you who do not live in the upper Midwest 30 degrees is much warmer. This week we have had lows in the negative single digits and wind chills as low as negative 27. My problem is I am no longer thinking winter, I have moved on to spring. Last week when it was 20 degrees, I was winter sowing seeds for my garden. If you don’t know about winter sewing, it is starting seeds outside in the snow in covered containers like milk jugs. I am thinking about Foxglove, Columbine, Shasta Daisies, Lupine and other really great flowers, it is not supposed to be so cold.
So the stage is set for the week as we prepared to leave for a quilt retreat sponsored by Memory Lane Quilting and then on to Virginia.
Monday we started work on a custom mat order for a really great customer. We had ordered new screens and frames, flood bars and squeegees. What could go wrong? Almost everything! Devlin set up the screen, put in a the new flood bar and squeegee, poured in the ink. Turned on the machine and two strokes later a $500 screen was ripped and useless. I was devastated. I was sure we had missed a burr on the new flood bar. So pull everything out, clean up, find the burr buff it out and start on the next order. Problem, we never did find a burr. What we did determine is the rounded end of the flood bar was not the same as all the rest of our flood bars. Get out a grinder and made it the same. Put in the next new screen and everything worked fine.
Things are back to normal. We have to put new silk on the frame and have the image put on it again. Because of the size of the screen we have it done outside our facility. First we have to clean all the glue and silk off the frame, transport it 89 miles and come home. More on this subject later in the week…
On Tuesday, my wife is using our Suburban to do some shopping because I have my pickup taking the frame to be fixed. It is 4:45 in the evening, she is driving home and tries to stop and the brake pedal gets all soft and sinks to the floor. Are you starting to get the sinking picture of how the week is going? So she calls the shop where we have all our mechanical work done. They close in 15 minutes, but they will stay open until she gets there. Now tomorrow is Wednesday and we had planned to load the Suburban and trailer so we could leave early on Thursday. Plans are just that and subject to change. Are you getting the picture of how confused our week is becoming?
Wednesday is spent trying to determine if the truck can be fixed by the time we need it, notifying Memory Lane Quilting we are experiencing a few difficulties. It turns out that we have several ruptured brake lines that have to be replaced; which is not surprising since the truck has 411,000 miles on the odometer. Having this happen at home is better than on the road. But everything is corroded and salt covered and there are a few problems bleeding the new lines. To shorten this up a bit, we normally load out about 2 in the afternoon. At 2pm we don’t even know if we will get the Suburban back today. So we clear out part of the warehouse and push the trailer in to load it. Now hope for the best. At 6:30pm we finally get the word the truck is ready to pick up. We are so lucky Wednesday is the one day of the week the shop works until 8pm. So back to the plant, load the suburban, hook up the trailer, pull it home, and we are back on track. I guess I should mention that my wife knows I was having a really bad day so she has fixed one of my favorite winter comfort meals. We got to eat dinner 2 ½ hours after it was ready. Eloise is really special because she did not say a thing!
Thursday morning 4am I am up waiting for Patricia, who hates morning before 9am. She shows up on time at 5am. I have had enough coffee and we load the suitcases and clothes. The hats are already in the trailer. Some of you may not understand the hat reference, but you don’t know Patricia and for you it is not important. We start off and start naming all the things we need and have packed. Forgot the safe, so we head for Patricia’s to pick it up. By the time we get there we have gotten to coats and mine is still in my pickup. Remember it is below zero so back to my house to get my coat. So we are now an hour behind. Ok we will change our route through Chicago because we need to avoid rush hour. That will add 30 minutes to the trip. We will arrive in Richfield, OH about 4pm instead of 2:30pm. I am still a happy camper.
We got to the south side of Chicago, and turned east on Interstate 80. I am thinking maybe if we don’t stop for lunch we can make up an hour. Remember it is really cold out and did I mention the wind is blowing out of the Northwest? Just about the time we get on the turnpike and go through the first toll we are in a really bad Lake Effect snow storm. For the next 70 miles we average a little over 25 miles an hour. Sit for an hour on the world longest parking lot, pass through several multiple truck car accidents and continue to fall further and further behind. Back home, Eloise is headed to pick up the screen that is ready. She calls me because she is having trouble with her truck, it will not develop enough power to shift into drive. She is going back to the house to get my truck and drop her truck at the shop. It turns out her truck will need a couple of new injectors. The only good news we will get today is that we have the screen back that we ruined on Monday. We did arrive late for the dinner but we were there for the teacher meet and greet. Got the trailer unloaded about 9pm and finished helping set up a couple of long arms about 10:30pm.
Friday morning came, Patricia will be teaching and Devlin will set up to screen the mat order from Monday. Everything is back to normal until the phone rings and I am told that the image on the screen is the wrong image!
It is still snowing you can’t tell that a snowplow was in the parking lot a couple of hours ago. I have to load the trailer this afternoon. I really love my job!
Tomorrow is Sunday, a new week starts we plan to drive part way to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, VA. We will see….
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
On our last road trip we were at Road to California. Road was celebrating its twentieth year. Like all shows it is affected by the increase in the number of shows that exist around the country. Fortunately, Road comes early in the year and many have not attended a show for several months. Caroline does an outstanding job of advertising the show and the result is Road is well attended. The weather in Southern California in late January is mild. There were high winds one day that caused a bit of concern in the Pavilion (tent in any other language) But the Santa Anna winds blow every year in the winter time. It is after all sunny Southern California.
Like every business Road is seeking ways to grow their business. They have chosen several avenues. Last two years they added the Pavilion. This allowed them to give some vendors more space; Quilter’s Rule picked up 5 feet which has aided us in our presentation. Road was able to add some vendors. Their business grew.
This year Road added the Marketplace! So what is the Marketplace? Most importantly to the other vendors, it was comprised of vendors one would normally only see if you attended Quilt Market in Houston and they were not selling product out of their booth. Revenue grew for Road but not competition between vendors for dollars.
So I stopped in and talked with a few Marketplace vendors to find out what they were thinking about when they decided to come to Road. I also observed what was happening in the interaction between customers and Marketplace vendors. And I have thought about a lot of possibilities for the future. But that is for the future after more careful thought.
Our industry is supposed to work by many manufacturers selling to a few distributors and those distributors selling to many stores and stores selling to the consumers. For simplicity I will not address the myriad of variations on that obsolete theme. Product education is supposed to happen at all levels. But we have all played the game where you whisper a comment to the person next to you and it goes around a circle and comes back to you. Education for the consumer at the store level is after a lot of whispers. What I saw was manufacturers educating the consumer directly. The consumer was seeing and hearing things they might not otherwise see or hear. This is great because for manufacturers, sometimes the information gets lost in the whispers between manufactures and consumers. At Road this year some of the whispers were first hand facts.
When I talked with the Marketplace vendors, each of them said the same thing; they were there to educate the public. Yes they were sending the consumer to stores that were selling the product they were demonstrating. Most importantly they were showing people things they had not previously seen.
Do I see problems? You bet your life. But not one of them is a problem that will hurt the industry. I see the possibility of improvement for everyone. I hope the Marketplace vendors will return next year and that there will be more of them.
Great job Caroline.