Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Why I Love Common Threads

The first week in June, I spent 3 days in Fenton, Missouri at Baby Lock's headquarters for their Common Threads event.

I can't wait to tell you more about my time there! But first, a cute baby...

Common Threads

This adorable little gal belongs to another Lindsay. It was fun to see her squishy cheeks every day, since I was away from my own cuddly little guy.

 Common Threads

What is Common Threads?

Baby Lock invited a group of bloggers (me!), designers, visionaries and industry experts together for a few days of fun, networking and learning together. It was an incredible group of people, and I honestly wondered several times, "Am I in the right place?"

Bottom line: I am thankful and humbled to be among this group of fellow creatives to hear about their lives and passions, and try to take some of that home with me. Because "what I do for a living" crosses over into a lot of different worlds (writing blog posts and books, editing travel guides, writing marketing copy), I hope that I was able to teach and encourage others by adding my voice to the conversation.

The theme of Baby Lock is "For the love of sewing," and that's what I took away from the weekend. Whether you'd been sewing 2 years or 20 years, There was a definite spirit of being in this together, sharing in something we all love...sewing!

Common Threads

Sewing and Learning

I used a crazy awesome sewing machine, the Baby Lock Destiny. This thing shoots a laser to show you how to sew a straight line, which makes for easy topstitching and half-square triangles with no marking.

(It also has a touchscreen and full-color screensaver. Yeah, no biggie.)

Common Threads

With a little more practice, I bet I'd really get the hang of it! Luckily help was never far away, with the generous Baby Lock staff there to teach us. This was especially helpful on the sergers and long arm.

For our three hands-on sewing sessions, we spent time:

1. Sewing bow baskets with Kimberbell Designs
2. Serging skirts for charity with Simple Simon and Co. (more on that in a future post)
3. Long arm quilting with Amy Ellis

Knot Baskets

Here's Kelly, my road trip buddy, with her finished knot basket! Baby Lock set up all of our finished projects around the room on beautiful displays so we could be inspired all weekend.

All of the fabric we sewed with was donated for us to work with...how amazing! Mind Your Mummy is pictured above. We also got to sew with Patty Young's Knits for Riley Blake and Amy Ellis's new collection for Moda.

Common Threads

Here's Jennifer Keltner, Publisher of Martingale and Co., trying her hand at the longarm.

I really loved hearing from Jennifer over the weekend about her vision for publishing, and the "magic" of a printed book, and how different that is from magazines or other formats. A book, she explains, holds the hopes and dreams of the projects you want to sew, and although some people collect magazines with the same fervor, there's something special about a sewing book that you love and having it in your hands.

Jina Barney, Design Director of Riley Blake, was equally passionate about the way she discussed fabric, and the hard work and love that is poured into making it. I was looking forward to hearing more about how she founded her company, but time ran out on us!

Common Threads

Eating Together and Hanging Out

The staff at Baby Lock was so welcoming to us the whole weekend, which began with a tour of the offices and warehouse, followed by dinner and mini cupcakes! It was so awesome to be able to eat all of our meals onsite, and I ended up chatting with someone different just about every time.


Among the attendees (clockwise from top left): Liz and Liz, Kate and Dana, Amy, Mary and Marianne, Heather, and our amazing family at Baby Lock

Common Threads

Networking (But in the Nicest Possible Way)

I loved the activity we did on Thursday morning. It was called "Getting to Know You," and was a cool way to get just enough time to chat with industry professionals (book and magazine editors, video personalities, celebrated teachers, company founders). Similar to speed dating, we'd each take a turn chatting it up with someone until the bell rang, and then it was time to move along.

Although it sounds like it could be a little intimidating, I really enjoyed it and found that everyone who is further along than me was so willing to share their advice. I just wanted to soak it all in!

We also played a fun game called "Name that Notion" and I realized that I am way behind the times. I didn't know hardly any of the answers, so I volunteered to be Vanna for my team and write the answers on the board. The best surprise... everybody won a bag of fun sewing tools!

For the swag bags, each attendee got the chance to donate an item (45 of them) to go in each of the bags. I shared my fabric button earrings, and it was super fun to look through my bag and get to take home a little something from everyone's world.

How about those cupcakes? You can check out more photos of the Baby Lock Common Threads 2015 event on my Flickr.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Swap It To Me: Low Volume Plus Blocks

Have you noticed the awesome Low Volume Plus Swap blocks people have been posting on Instagram? I had no idea when I started this swap that the response would be so awesome, with more than 150 sign-ups!

Here are some of the 49 blocks I've made so far for the swap. I started with rainbow colors.

And then realized that this teal block was my absolute favorite. If I don't choose a rainbow assortment of blocks, I'm going to go with ocean colors. What would you pick?

 More blocks that I love!

These are the 1,047 blocks I've receive so far from the swap... time to sort! Have you ever joined a block swap? Were you happy with or somewhat disappointed in the experience? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Most Important Post I Will Ever Write

This is a post I've been thinking about writing for a long time. In the sewing community, I've found so much love and support. I tend to keep things upbeat and positive on this blog. And mostly sewing related, which is why I popped in a picture of my Hour Basket. But in my experience, a little vulnerability goes a long way in allowing somebody to relate.

My Journey with Anxiety 

A decade ago, I had my first panic attack. I was driving to a friend's bachelorette party when suddenly I felt trapped. My heart skipped, then raced. I had hot flashes, and needed air. I desperately struggled with the windows and A/C while trying to drive toward the nearest interstate exit. I had no category for these feelings.

Thankfully, my longtime friend Christie was with me that night. She took me to get dinner. (I didn't eat.) Then she drove me home. I don't remember much of that car ride, except for laying in the backseat thinking that my heart was going to stop beating. The initial panic attack had spurred a series of physical symptoms (racing heartbeat, tightness in my chest, etc.) that lasted all night. I was sure this was it, and I was dying.

The years following my first panic attack were filled with confusion and self-doubt.

Anxiety has been a major theme in my life, tainting even the nicest memories. The first time I went to Quilt Market, I was thrilled to get to meet many of my blogging friends in person for the first time. On night one in Kansas City, I walked to a Mexican restaurant with two of the sweetest girls ever. Sitting at the table, I felt faint, spacey and oddly disconnected from reality. I couldn’t eat more than a couple tortilla chips, and excused myself to the restroom. Was it that weird dessert I ate earlier? I apologized to my new friends, and called a taxi to take me back to the hotel early.

I honestly don’t know if I had some kind of food poisoning, or if it was the panic attack alone that made me feel so off. Granted, I had a lot on mind at the time. The book publisher I worked for was going through major layoffs, so I would likely lose my job. I had just gone through three interviews for a new position with a company I loved, and I was now in Kansas City for the final interview. While it’s not totally surprising that I spent most of the weekend feeling anxious, I look back at that trip with some regrets. Most of all, I wish that I had spent less time in my hotel room feeling ill and more time being present, enjoying my time with people.

It wasn’t just driving or traveling someplace new that made me anxious. Sometimes normal things like shopping or going out to dinner made me feel uneasy. I’d go over scenarios in my head, preparing myself for how I'll react if I panic. On one occasion, my husband bought us tickets to the ballet on Valentine’s Day. Instead of looking forward to a new experience, I spent the days leading up to our date researching the theater, wondering where our seats would be, and planning a possible escape route. I mean… who does this?

So often, I've blamed myself because I can't hold it together. Sometimes I keep it bottled up inside, so ashamed and worried sick that activities I used to enjoy become a lot of work. I wonder how long I can keep up a facade of calm, collectedness before the inevitable happens and my cover is blown. Hey, look at me. I'm anxious!

One day, I felt such an intense panic while driving that I pulled off the Interstate. I was used to taking abrupt exits like this, if I felt panicky and needed to escape. Letting my heart rate slowly return back to normal, I sipped some water and bit into a granola bar, just as I saw the cop car.

“M’am, this is a very unsafe place to pull over. Are you having car trouble?”

“No,” I sheepishly replied. “I’m just having a little panic attack,” and smiled.

“Well…. Do you have a medical condition that requires you to stop and eat?”

“I’m pregnant.” This was true. But not the real reason I pulled over.

After scolding me for poor judgment (“You could get yourself killed”), the cop sent me on my way. My emotions soared from fear to intense anger… at the officer… at myself. I turned my keys in the ignition and immediately merged back onto the freeway. With the cop car out of sight, I sped toward my exit. Just a couple quick turns from home, shame over the whole situation welled up inside of me, and I sobbed. Tears blurred everything. I dried my eyes with my shirt sleeve and continued home.

Matt was in our room folding clothes. He saw my smeary face and asked what was wrong. I didn't have the energy to go into it, but I also couldn’t hide. So I recounted the entire story about the panic attack and the cop.

“I’m so … tired… of this,” I said. With a baby on the way, I had deeper fears about caring for a little one while trying to hold it together myself.

I started therapy just weeks later. My counselor introduced me to guided visualization, and I was driving on the Interstate again. He taught me how I could imagine myself driving successfully, and then enter a situation with confidence instead of fear. It was one way to fight back against the negativity that my mind pitted against me.

Counseling helped a lot. While I gained control of my life to the point where I resumed normal activities, I always felt the looming threat of anxiety coming back, this time stronger and debilitating. Despite my fears, however, I wrote my first book. I traveled to conferences. I kept going.

Mid- to late last year, I felt free from anxiety for the first time in a decade. I was living my life fully, confident that I could accomplish anything I set out to do. I suspect a lot of this was connected to the elation I felt in overcoming my very real fears in becoming a mom.

So, this is how normal people feel . . .

I felt so free! I felt so myself. I had true hope that this anxiety journey was over.

Around January this year, the panic attacks returned. Sitting at a red light, I felt trapped by the cars around me. I started to feel faint. I fanned myself, fiddled with the radio, grabbed for my phone.

Anxiety was a part of my life once again. And I felt defeated.


This time around, I've taken a proactive approach to tackling my anxiety. I started going to counseling (again). Adjusted my medication. I read so many books. I journaled every night before bed about my day, citing possible anxious triggers. I also wrote things I was grateful for each day to inject some forced positivity into a dismal situation. I joined a women's group at church and asked for their prayers and friendship. Despite my sense of embarrassment over the whole situation, I left the house every day and did the very things that scared me.

With practice, I have learned to cope with panic attacks so they happen a lot less often. Today, I'd describe them more as passing thoughts... or manageable worries. Even if I felt a hint of anxiety, I still push forward and do the very thing that scares me. I keep driving rather than pull off the road. I breathe deeply and take new experiences one step at a time. This is not easy, by any means, but it has gotten so much easier with practice.

Most days are fine. But I'm not so far removed from the struggle of anxiety that I can forget its very real pull on me. Those days that left me feeling raw, disappointed, and exhausted from the fight... there were so many! I was disappointed in myself, and the whole situation. I was ashamed that I had to work so hard in the first place at things that come so naturally to others.

But for today, I've found peace. I've realized that although I may still be living with anxiety... I'm still living. Truly living.

I'm proud of myself for what I've accomplished in spite of this giant, scary unknown. I can accept myself, and love the person God created me to be. And I'm eternally thankful for my support system… the people who can remind me who I am.

If you are living with anxiety or depression, please know that you are not alone. If every day takes a lot of effort, I get it. And I'm right here with you.

If you have never experienced this kind of anxiety, I bet you know someone who does. If your friend, spouse, parent, or child is battling mental illness, I've put together a few stats and explanations here to help you understand.

Thanks for reading, and for being a part of my journey! I also recommend this excellent post today by Grace Bonney at Design Sponge called "Things that Scare Me."

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