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Greetings quilters,

You have to love May. School is done or winding down. The days are warm, and the nights are still kind of cool. The trees and flowers are in bloom. In the evening you can smell the grills in the neighborhood. I love May!

This funny tale came to me from my friend, Steve.

A little boy goes to his father and asks, "Daddy, how was I born?"

The father answers, "Well son, I guess one day you will need to find out anyway! Your Mom and I first got together in a chat room on Yahoo. Then I set up a date via email with your Mom, and we met at a cyber cafe. We sneaked into a secluded room, and googled each other. There your mother agreed to a download from my hard drive. As soon as I was ready to upload, we discovered that neither one of us had used a firewall, and since it was too late to hit the delete button, nine months later a little pop-up appeared that said, "You've got male!"

In the last newsletter, I mentioned a Lone Star book I wanted to write. I scuttled the idea because I feel I need to create a specific fabric line to support the book. I don't think the current available fabric lines do what this book really needs. Without the proper range of color gradations, quilters would have a hard time recreating the beauty of the Lone Star designs I've come up with.

That prompted Dar to chime in with some opinions. Dar is a smart woman who contacts us periodically, so when she speaks, I listen. She raised some interesting points, and that's why I'm going to share them here. That said, nothing is changed: The Lone Star book is still on hold, and I'm barreling forward on a Log Cabin book. Sorry Dar. Here she is in her own words:

"I know you didn't ask for opinions or votes on your next book, but if you had, I would vote for a Lone Star book over a Log Cabin. I know time flies the older I get, but it feels like you just did a Log Cabin, and I haven't even made anything out of that one yet!

"Your designs are awesome. They've never needed a fabric line to support them before, and that actually helps unleash the creative process for those making your quilts. I like to buy FQ collections as much as the next quilter, but truthfully they sit organized and neatly bound on my shelves. The rest of my fabric sits lopsided and disheveled, as I rummage through to find what I need for your patterns. Sometimes I have to go buy what I don't have (such a burden!), but never have I 'broken into' a collection for one or two pieces. 'They' must remain intact until they are all made into a quilt, or none of them will be.

"Anyway, I only brought that up because you mentioned wanting your own fabric line to support the Lone Star subtleties. There are lots of people out there doing those kinds of fabrics, but there is only ONE Judy Martin designing wonderful and ACCURATE patterns to incorporate them."

This is Judy again. I want to quickly address three things Dar said. By the time my next book comes out, it will have been 6 years since the release of Judy Martin's Log Cabin Quilt Book. That's almost 1 dog year! I realize I haven't explained my ideas for a fabric line well enough, but I don't think anyone is doing what I want in a fabric line. I think there's a huge hole in the marketplace, and I'd love to be able to fill it with my line. So, no, I don't think there's anything out there that would sufficiently help quilters make the Lone Stars I envision. Finally, I LOVE, repeat LOVE the idea of someone seeing their inner muse unleashed by my patterns as they rummage through their fabric. While I feel we need some specific gradated colors available for this Lone Star book, I don't want people making their quilts identical to what I make. I want to see people go in their own directions, but there is a good chance they're going to need certain fabrics to fill in along the way. Until I can give them that, the Lone Star book will only exist in my mind.

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That would be a big yes! If reaching more than 13,000 dedicated quilters would be good for your business, please contact Steve at He'll fill you in on the rates and details.

My cousin Glo is studying our family's genealogy. She recently came up with this 111-year-old photo of our grandfather standing in front of a Log Cabin quilt. Apparently, I was predestined to design Log Cabin quilts! The link below is a long one, and if it doesn't work automatically, you may have to do a lot of copying and pasting to get it accurately into the address bar of your browser.

There was a recent thread on Stashbusters that raised this question. It was suggested that as print media gets squeezed, there isn't the money to pay designers for larger quilt projects. Steve wrote a long response in the thread, talking about the considerations in publishing a quilt pattern. Some of it was general to the question; some of it was specific to why we do what we do. Because I think you might find the topic interesting, I'm going to give Steve a fat smooch on the lips and then steal some of his words, adapting them and adding to them where necessary and submitting them as my own in this newsletter.

I think one reason magazine projects might be getting smaller is that magazines aren't even paying for the content in many cases: They're getting it for free from fabric companies. The fabric company is paying someone to design and make the quilt. They don't want to emphasize the pattern; they want to emphasize the fabric. That's one of the key reasons you'll see larger patches and smaller quilts.

A quilt project is a quilt project. A small quilt is going to take almost the same amount of space in a book as a queen-size quilt. A simpler quilt will probably require less space than a more complex one, but even that isn't necessarily true. The size of the quilt is more or less irrelevant to the act of publishing it.

There are other factors at work. One reason a designer might choose to make a small quilt is it takes less of her time to make, and time is the currency of the land. Furthermore, if she sends it out to be quilted, the quilting will cost less on a small quilt. If she intends to lug it around the country and teach from it, it's easier to lug when it's small.

Most of the quilts I make for my books are bed-sized. Today that means most of them are queens. Why do I do this? There are several reasons.

My designs tend to be complex-looking, and that complexity is usually enhanced by more repeats. A secondary pattern that you're just beginning to see in blocks set 3 x 3 will shine in a 5 x 5 set. Impressive quilts sell books.

Also, people making the quilts are likelier to have a queen bed than a twin. If you want to sell your books, you have to have patterns in sizes that people need.

That leads to the final reason, when I go to sell my quilts, queens are most in demand. (You want to buy a quilt? Talk to me. My son has one more year at Grinnell College!)

The downside of all that is it takes longer for me to make the quilts that go in the next book, thus delaying publication. It costs me more to get the quilts quilted. It costs a little more to get them photographed because they're bulkier to handle and harder to light properly. And when I go to do a lecture, I'm like a Sherpa guide hauling 3 or 4 large suitcases on my back.

My basic philosophy boils down to this: I try to do what's right for the quilt, not what's right for me. It might be easier to slap a plain border on and be done with it, but if the quilt looks better with a pieced border, that's what I do. It might be easier to make it out of 5 fabrics, but if it looks better in scraps, that's what I do. If it looks more refined with 1-inch logs rather than 2-inch, that's what I do. If it looks more interesting as a queen rather than a 36-inch square wall quilt, that's what I do. And if all that takes longer, so be it. We publish less often and make less money.

Of course, even though I usually make large quilts, I present my patterns in two or three sizes.

Hey, good question! As I said above, time is money. My next book is going to come out in the fall of 2013. I just finished the first top, a queen, and I am sewing the second, also a queen. The book will have 12-14 patterns, probably all but two of them will be large. The two small ones would have been too repetitive and boring done larger. (Larger isn't always more impressive. Usually it is, though.) As Steve and I started looking at the calendar, allowing for some planned trips this summer and Will's senior year and his final baseball season, there was no way we were going to get a book out before next spring. And we don't want to release a book and then shut down for 2 weeks for the Florida baseball trip. And we never want to release a book in the summer. Add it all up, and the book will come out in September, 2013.

I could compromise myself and make smaller quilts, thus enabling us to get the book out late this year. However, when I slow my breathing and listen to what the designs are whispering, they're begging to be made large. So, large it is and late 2013 it is. Published quilt projects may be getting smaller in general; mine aren't. I'll leave it to you to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

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I'm going to get my cheese on and venture to the Dairy State for a couple of lectures on June 4.

At 11:00 (That's in the morning, NOT in the evening!) I will do my Log Cabin quilt lecture at Mill House Quilts in Waunakee, Wisconsin. Here's the web site:

At 7:00 (That's in the evening, NOT in the morning!) I will do the same lecture on Log Cabin quilts at the Lodi Valley Quilters Guild monthly meeting in Lodi, Wisconsin. You can read all the pertinent details here:

I might even have a top or two from my next book! I hope you'll stop by either venue to say hello.

And for those of you who are not of a certain age, "Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again." is a line from a great Creedence Clearwater Revival song. I assume that was a reference to a sputtering musical career that seemed to have hit a brick wall in Lodi, California. I'm told by numerous trustworthy people this Lodi is delightful!

While we're on the subject of lectures and engagements, I have two more to tell you about. On July 13 I will be signing autographs at Quilters' Corner in Grand Junction, Colorado. That's a special day around my house. Kate will be 23 that day, and I'll have her with me. So even if you don't want to see me, you'll still want to stop in and wish my girl a happy birthday!

The next day at 1:00 I'll be at the Black Canyon Quilt Show in Montrose, Colorado. I'll be doing a lecture on Stellar Quilts. It should be a lot of fun.

Last month my soon-to-be-23-year-old Kate competed in two events in the district competition for the Iowa Special Olympics. She was excited to be doing it again. Last year there was a paperwork snafu, and she didn't get entered. No such snafu this year.

Kate was competing in the softball throw and the 50-meter dash. She had done work with both Steve and Will on her throwing. It was funny watching her throw. After so many years of going to baseball games, it's ingrained in her that she should work from the stretch, just like a pitcher does when there is a runner on base. Facing perpendicular from her target, Kate raises her hands up to eye level and then slowly drops them down to her waist. Her left leg goes up and then slides down toward her target. Her hands separate. Her foot plants, she pivots toward the target and lets it fly.

All of that sounds smoother than it is in action. My men both tried to get her to separate her hands sooner and take her throwing arm farther back, to no avail. Steve reckoned his tinkering hurt Kate's distance by about 5 feet. Good coaching, Steve! Perhaps if he hadn't coached her, she would have won a blue ribbon. As it was she took a yellow for third place.

After lunch we gathered on the track. Kate has always been better in the throwing than in the running events. We figured another third place was the best we could expect. Not so! The girl ran as well as I've ever seen her and took a blue ribbon and earned a spot at State.

As it always is, the state competition was held on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames. On the way to the campus, we hit the quilt shop in Ames, Quilting Connection, so I could get more background fabric for my next book.

When Kate checked in, we learned she was in lane 1, which is reserved for the top qualifier. That meant our Kate was the favorite to win the event and take home her first gold medal! Alas, it was not meant to be. I think she was somewhat distracted by all our cheering and ended not running as well as she had done in qualifying. Instead, we went home with a sixth-place ribbon. No complaints, though. Kate knew that win or lose, we loved her and we were proud of her.

I've had a couple of patterns in Quiltmaker publications recently. I designed Ladder of Success for Quiltmaker, and it appeared in the May/June issue. They have also been running a series called Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. My block, Mia Bella, appeared in the recent Volume 5 of the series.

One slightly interesting aside here: When Steve and I had dinner with the editors of Quiltmaker at Fall Quilt Market, one of the topics that came up during our delightful evening together was the matter of naming blocks or quilts. Having designed almost 1000 patterns means I've had to come up with almost 1000 names. There's no set formula to what I do, but I try to come up with names that evoke something. Names that work on multiple levels are usually good. Where did Mia Bella come from? It means "my beautiful" in Italian. That's a good name for a quilt! It's also the name of the restaurant where we ate with the Quiltmaker editors. That's what led me to use the name.

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You know how after a long and difficult day, sometimes you want to relax with a funny movie? I like drama, suspense, and action as much as anybody, but there are times when only a comedy will do.

Twice in the last couple of weeks, we have rented movies that were tagged as comedies, but were anything but. I'm not talking about comedies that just weren't very funny, that appealed to a different sense of humor; I'm talking about films that never tried to be comedies.

The first time Steve came home and announced he had a romantic comedy with Anne Hathaway. Promising. It turned out he was debating between Anne Hathaway and another flick and took the other flick by mistake. That was problem one. The movie he did rent, though, was billed as a comedy. It was like watching a dirge being performed at half speed. It was poor as a drama and worse as a comedy. I'd warn you off it, but thankfully I've already forgotten the title.

A few days later, we got "Young Adult" from Netflix. That's a "comedy" with Charlize Theron. Everything on the Netflix page says, "comedy," but there is nothing comedic about a delusional woman trying to wreck someone's marriage. One could build madcap antics into such a plot, but the filmmakers weren't trying to do that. They played this straight up at face value. I guess the movie was all right as a dark, human drama, but that's not what I was told I was renting. Not getting the comedy I expect and require is a tragedy! I hope it doesn't happen again for a long time.

Steve received the following query from a Canadian quilter who was trying to discern the differences between US and Canadian copyrights so she could then inform her fellow Canadian quilters:

"Canadian quilters mainly use American patterns. Since Canadians are unaware of US copyrights, we don't know if we are infringing of someone's rights when we make our quilts. Some US designers are more flexible concerning copyrights than Canadian designers who adhere to the law concerning their designs.

"Canadian Copyright Act states that only the designer can:
1) make any changes to the design, quilts must be made as the instructions state
2) take a photo of the design
3) display in a quilt show
4) make a second or multiples of the same design

"My question is this: Is the American copyright similar?"

Here is Steve's reply to which I can't add a thing. He's nailed my sentiments exactly: Judy publishes patterns so people will make her quilts. She encourages people to put their own stamp on the quilt, whether by altering colors, the fabrics, the arrangement, or the size. She encourages people to take photos of the quilt. She encourages people to enter quilts made from her designs in shows. She is perfectly comfortable having people make the same quilt more than once. Frankly speaking, if Judy were to put the restrictions you cite on her patterns and if quilters were to adhere to them, we would have gone broke years ago.

When Judy creates a design, she owns that design and can limit its use in any way she pleases. Copyright laws are designed to protect her ownership rights. As a practical matter, though, the restrictions above wouldn't protect Judy's interests; they would damage them. What Judy doesn't permit is for someone to go into production using one of her designs, churning out Snake River Log Cabins at a factory in China to sell at Wal-Mart. She also doesn't permit others to create patterns for her designs unless she has specifically given them permission to do so. And when people post a photo or enter a quilt in a show, Judy asks that they leave the name unchanged and credit the designer and the source.

We want people to buy Judy Martin books, make Judy Martin quilts (whether identical or slightly varied), post photos of those quilts so others will buy Judy Martin books, and enter those quilts in shows so others will buy Judy Martin books. We want to encourage you, not make it harder for you. This is what makes sense for us.

This has to be seen to be believed. Even then you might not believe it!

Marilyn sent me some hilarious statements about the Bible written by students. The spelling hasn't been changed.

Lots wife was a pillar of salt during the day, but a ball of fire during the night.

The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with unsympathetic genitals.

The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.

The seventh commandment is "Thou shalt not admit adultery."

St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage.

Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony.


Quilt Qua: For both quilters and quilt businesses - Helping to Expand Your Creative Expression! Find Resources, Show & Tell, Blogs, Articles, Show Listings, Guilds, Giveaways and Much More! Come take a look, and enjoy. Contact Connie -

My hometown of Grinnell is staging the coolest contest to put a new restaurant in our town. I think this is one of the greatest ideas I've ever heard. I don't want to own a restaurant, but if I did, I'd enter this contest:

Civic leaders in Grinnell have come up with a brilliantly creative way of filling a recently empty storefront on Main Street: conduct an open competition, complete with tens of thousands of dollars worth of prizes. With the incentives available, it's almost impossible to fail. The organizers are hoping to turn the competition into a reality TV series. It's the sort of thing I would watch, even if I didn't live in Grinnell. TV show or not, you will be able to watch video presentations and vote online for your favorite concept. The top vote getter automatically goes to the finals.

Just last night at dinner, we were talking about what we would like to see in that space. Steve wants an Indian restaurant, but it can't be just an OK Indian restaurant. Grinnell probably doesn't have the population to support it. It needs to serve exceptional Indian food and be a destination for people throughout central and eastern Iowa. My vote went to a joint that serves gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. I don't even like mac and cheese, but that place would rock! Kate wants to see a restaurant devoted to serving my cookies and desserts. Good old Kate.

We can't wait to see (and taste) the winning restaurant concept. Perhaps it will be YOUR concept! Grinnell is a great place to live, so if you have an idea, enter the contest.

Because I am in quilt-planning mode, I need to hunt up a lot of fabric to fill gaps in all the scrap quilts I'm making for the next book. So a trip to Florida for spring baseball is also a chance to hit some quilt shops I would otherwise have no opportunity to visit.

On the way down, the timing was perfect for us to make a small detour to Quilter's Attic in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. This is just north of Nashville, and it was well worth the visit. The ladies were all so friendly there. The samples they had up, particularly upstairs, were beautiful. After spending an hour picking out fabrics, I showed them the designs I was considering for my new book. I got excellent feedback. I have too many designs for one book, and they helped me pare down the stack of possibles. If you're near Nashville, plan to stop at Quilter's Attic.

Then, because Will was playing in Winter Haven, Florida again this year, we went to Heartfelt Quilting right there in Winter Haven. As much as I loved the shop last year, my oh my, how they have grown! The building is the same size, but it seemed to have twice as much fabric as before, and it had a lot before. Steve was very patient with me until all my shopping cost him a chance to have lunch at a Boston Market right next to the ballpark. That meant he had to eat lunch at the concession stand, which ruined his day. In my mind, all the great fabric I bought was worth him having a lousy lunch. You won't go wrong with Pat and the crew at Heartfelt Quilting. In fact, as soon as you're done reading this newsletter, drop everything and go to Heartfelt Quilting in Winter Haven, which is southwest of Orlando.

BAND MANAGER The past couple of summers we've listened to tales of Will's classmates scattering around the country on internships in their fields of interest. This past year, starting in September, Will began contacting bands, venues, and record labels about a summer internship.

He was encouraged about his prospects at a Chicago music venue, particularly when a colleague of his roommate's mother knew the owner and put in a good word for him. (How's that for a convoluted connection? That's what makes the world go 'round, though.) Alas, they hired a previous intern and didn't have a place for Will.

While the venue gig was falling apart, Will's employer here in Grinnell phoned his daughter's boyfriend who worked for an independent record label in Chicago. (Another convoluted connection!) So Will pursued that opportunity. Meanwhile, Will's roommate's mother's colleague told Will to call an entertainment manager he knew. And wouldn't you know it, both places wanted my boy.

Will took the gig with the manager because it was offered first and because it would be full-time. Working 40 hours a week will afford Will more hands-on learning experiences. And that's what it's all about. You don't work for free otherwise.

Two days after finals ended, Will was home long enough to do his laundry. Then he was on his way to Chicago. Initially he was staying with a teammate in a close-in suburb. He just moved into a room on the north side.

For a lot of people Will's age (20), college is about leaving home and finding their way in the world. While Will has engaged in a lot of self-discovery and maturation in his 3 years at Grinnell College, he hasn't left home. Oh sure, he lives on campus, but it's just a block from our house. This summer internship is about more than just learning the music business from the ground floor: It's also about getting out on his own. Exciting stuff.

"Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other." - Oscar Ameringer

"A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country." - Texas Guinan

"I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them." - Adlai Stevenson in a campaign speech, 1952

"The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself." - Plato

And that's all, folks! It will probably be early August before we can do this again. Have a great summer.

Judy Martin