Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Get to know the QQQ's - Nancy of Hartford Avenue Quilts

Hi! I'm Nancy Hovland of Hartford Avenue Quilts 

How did you come up with your shop name?
My shop name is the name of the street I live on.  Probably not very original but I like the name of my street and I thought it sounded better than Nancy’s Quilts!

Where do you live?
I live in St. Paul, Minnesota, and have been here since 1981.  However, I have lived in 8 states total in the U.S. during my life.  My family did a lot of moving. 

When did you start making quilts? Or, when did you become interested in quilt-related items (fabric, patterns etc)?
I took my first quilting class in 1980.  I started sewing at age 12 when I bought my first sewing machine and (tried) to make clothes.  But by adulthood I already knew I loved quilts and wanted to learn how to make them.  Back then it was cut every piece with scissors and quilt by hand. 

Tell us about your first quilt or other important first in your sewing life.
My first quilt was ugly by my standards today!  It was kind of a bright yellow and royal blue and was a sampler.  However, it was a completed project and I had it on a bed for many years.  I could look at it and see how far I had come since then.

What are your favorite colors and quilt blocks? 
I’ve always loved reds and if I was making a quilt for myself I’d always get some reds in there.  But depending on the project I will look at any color or pattern to see what works best.  Except for bright oranges. Not my favorite. 

What inspires you?
Others’ work inspires me and I always look at the quilting.  I aspire to get better at machine quilting!  I also love seeing barn quilts whenever I get outside the city into the country.  It’s a fantastic idea and I thank the people who got this movement started.

Do you have a favorite quilting tip?
The only thing I can think of is that when I’m ready to quilt and not sure what to do, I will Google machine quilting designs and click on Images.  I scroll thru and get some ideas that might work for whatever I’m working on.

Do you have any other hobbies? Pets? A garden, kids or volunteer activities?
Hobbies include a lot of reading (a lot!) and now that I’m retired I’ve been going to yoga.  I also am joining a local strength training program that’s for people 40+.  Which means I don’t have to wear spandex!  I do some gardening and I ride my bike daily in the warmer weather. 

Do you do any charity sewing?
No I have not done any charity sewing.

Running an Etsy shop means you wear many hats in one day. How do Etsy activities impact your other life activities, such as family, work, other activities?
I spend a lot of time sewing and am so lucky to have a dedicated space in my house for that.  Since I am retired I can pretty much pick and choose how I spend my day, throwing in errands, and whatever else needs to be done. 

How do you plan your projects?
I have a stack of projects I’d like to try and already have the fabric for some.  I am working on becoming more proficient on EQ7.  I bought it a while ago and took a class, however as with anything else if you don’t keep at it right away you lose what you’ve learned.  Which I did.  But there are videos on the program that are very helpful.  If I could find the class being offered somewhere again I’d take it.

Do you have any business skills to share?
My business skills are almost nil.  I have a lot to learn still, and sometimes it’s like learning a new language.  I was a social worker primarily in public education for many years, and terms like SEO and tag words are not part of that environment! 

Do you have any organization tips to share?
I finally spent a bunch of money to better organize all my stuff.  I went to the Container Store and bought a storage system that I love. Still kind of looks like a mess but it really is better organized.  Plus the baskets are metal mesh so you can see what’s in there.  And this is all in a big closet where I can hang finished quilts, there are shelves, and even an outlet so I can plug in the iron!  Much better than using my son’s old dresser for storage. 

Where in the world would you like to visit?
I really want to travel now that I finally have the time.  I’d love to go to Norway as that’s where my great grandparents emigrated from.  All of Scandinavia would be good!  Next summer I’m making a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, during an international art festival.  I’ve always want to go there too.  My friend who has arranged this trip has sent me links to various quilt shops there and I see that they have fabric that I don’t see where I live.  I imagine I’ll be shipping stuff home!


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  1. Love those storage containers, great idea! Isn't it wonderful being retired? So much time to quilt :-)

  2. Nice to "meet" you, Nancy! Thanks for sharing.


    Ms P Designs

  3. Great getting to know you better, Nancy! I love your quilts and your wonderful closet! Do you sew in the closet as well?

  4. Enjoyed getting to know you Nancy! Your quilts and quilted items are really nice.

  5. Thank you, Nancy! I love how you got your shop name, it's very classy.

  6. Way to go Nancy!! So nice to get a little insight into you the person and where your inspiration comes from. Your quilts are lovely ♥

  7. I enjoyed getting to know you better Nancy! Your new storage organization looks wonderful and how handy to have an outlet for your iron in that closet!

  8. I really like your shop name Nancy, it was fun to hear where it came from. Great interview!