Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Designer Focus - Brenda Riddle of Acorn Quilt & Gift Company and Giveaway!

Our Featured Designer this month is Brenda Riddle of Acorn Quilt & Gift Company.  We have the privilege of hearing about how Brenda got started in the business.  So sit back and enjoy the story! 


My love of working (playing really) with fabric and threads began when I was a little girl learning how to embroider. I had seen the table covers and doilies that my Mom had inherited from her mom and grandma, and I felt such a sense of belonging as I was also learning to do the variety of pretty stitches. I could sit and stitch for hours!


Then there were the beautiful patchwork quilts that Mom kept on the higher shelves in the linen closet. A little higher than I could reach, but I would always take a peek at them whenever I was asked to get something for my Mom from the lower shelves. . . or when putting away the towels when ‘helping’ my Mom folding the laundry. (Confession: I still like folding laundry!) The quilts were saved for ‘special’ occasions - when snuggling and comfort was especially needed - like when I had a cold or those times when Mom knew that cuddles wrapped in one of the quilts would help make everything little better. (She was so right - they still have that effect on me!)

As I grew, I started making my own clothes in middle school, and I continued to make many of my clothes until my early adult years. Then I was introduced to fabric stores, and my first job was working in a fabric shop when I was in high school. Not much of my paycheck ever made it out of the shop - but my love for bolts and bolts of fabric was definitely embedded into my creative soul.


In college, I majored in Art/Design and after graduating I worked in the architecture and interior design fields for about 9 years. It was a wonderful way to get to use my love for design, but there was something missing. It was becoming a ‘job’, and I was losing the joy.

All during these years, I had also worked with high school kids in my church's youth groups, and after a summer trip to Guatemala with a group of them, I realized that I would love to work with kids full time. So I left the design field and started teaching art and design in a private high school. I loved watching the kids learn and try and grow in their abilities and in their belief in their abilities; taking things step-by-step. I was reminded of a saying that my Grandpa would say, “. . . from little acorns, mighty oaks grow”.
It was also during this time that I began quilting and loving every aspect of it. I found that everything I had done before (creativity-wise) all seemed to fit perfectly with quilting. I taught at the high school for 15 years and during the last four years I began to grow Acorn Quilt & Gift Company. I was encouraged to go to Quilt Market, and once I did I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I said goodbye to full time teaching (I still like to sub now and again), and I’ve been very blessed with everything that has happened since. From designing quilts, fabric, and ever-expanding needlework designs I am one happy and blessed girl!  


My latest pattern, By My Hand, is one that is very dear to my heart. It reflects my love for all the aspects of quilting (piecing and appliqué), but also incorporates stitchery with its embroidery. The focus of the design is the cross-stitch samplers that I have always loved. Many of the vintage samplers were done by younger girls. It reminds me of the days when I was first introduced to a needle and thread and the incredible wonderful journey that has since come my way!

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Brenda! 


We have By My Hand available as a Block of the Month beginning in March, and patterns are also available separately. Take a look at all of Brenda's products in our Featured Designer category.

Brenda's dog Bailey has one more announcement!


That's right, Home Comforts, Comfort & Joy, and Simple Things Small Joys have all been marked down 30%.


GIVEAWAY!
Four lucky winners will receive a pattern or book by Brenda Riddle!  Enter a comment below sharing what your favorite Brenda Riddle pattern is, or tell us what you liked about Brenda's story. 

52 comments:

  1. Well, I have 3 daughters, so I am partial to the Betsey's Closet quilt. I enjoyed reading the interview, especially the part about teaching...I was a high school English teacher before I had kids. I love teaching!

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  2. Benji's Pockets makes me smile...and it's perfect for a special little grandson, which I just happen to have! ;-)

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  3. I love Frosted Windowpanes, and also By My Hand....such a hard decision!

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  4. Remember Whooo Loves You is my pick for favorite design. I love the owl!

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  5. I love Betsey's Closet and hope to make it someday if I have a granddaughter. By My Hand is another beautiful design.

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  6. I love that the money you made at the fabric store went to buying fabric!!! That sounds like something I'd do.

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  7. I LOVE how she has followed her loves to teach and then pursue fabric and design- it takes guts to go out of your comfort zone, and she did it so beautifully, twice!! Love that!

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  8. I like many of the patterns, but Isabella is my favorite. Not only is in really pretty, but it shares a name with my granddaughter.

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  9. I love the new pattern she has that looks like a needlework sampler. So original

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  10. Her work is wonderful. I like the by my hand one you featured

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  11. I just love the intricate looking By My Hand pattern. It may not be intricate, but it looks like a lot of work was put into it. Thanks for your generous giveaway.

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  12. I love Seasons of the heart, Frosted Windowpanes, Floyes garden, Remember Whooo loves you,Comfort and Joy ...lots of her beautiful designs.

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  13. I like the history in the article, it is a history a lot of us share. Our love of creating comes from the history that is our memories. Those old quilts from our childhood, made us feel good and I think it is part of our creating now, to recapture those comfortable feelings. I could identify with so much of the same hisotry Patriciak425@comcast.net

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  14. Loved this story. I think Floye's garden has to be my favorite of Brenda's patterns.

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  15. floye's garden is sweet! love the applique!

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  16. Floye's Garden is sweet. I love the aplique. Hugs Jofrid

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  17. Frosted Windowpanes is my fave I think, although its a hard choice to pick one.

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  18. By My Hand is really pretty and I love to know the story behind it.

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  19. Betsy's Clothes Closet is my favorite.. I love this By My Hand, but I think it might be too difficult for my skill set.

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  20. It's hard to pick a favourite! possibly cottage Sweet Home?

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  21. I can relate to the way Brenda's path unfolded..having taken a similiar road through art and design at college with ceramics as my major and the revelation for me was similiar too in that people are living clay...infinitely more valuable than inert vessels and agree that the focus needs to be on meeting the needs of people rather than purely focusing on art for art's sake. Brenda also has expressed this through teaching, it is in childhood we are most moldable and the vital patterns of living can be impressed to ensure a good life. I heartily agree with her principals and feel greatly encouraged by her story. I can see the beauty and strength in her work.

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  22. NEAT STORY!
    CUTE LITTLE BAILEY!
    LOVE 'SWEET HOME'!
    THANKS FOR SHARING!

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  23. Brenda's story was very inspirational. I especially enjoyed her memories of the time she spent with her Mother.

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  24. Thanks for sharing Brenda's story! So inspirational :) I love her Frosted Windowpanes pattern: just lovely!

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  25. I enjoyed Brenda's story and how she used her Grandpa's saying as impetus for her company name, Acorn.

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  26. I love Betsy's Closet Quilt - it reminds me of Betsy McCall paperdolls that used to be in McCall's magazine many years ago.

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  27. Right now it is definitely By My Hand - next is Country Lane - next ... I love them all, she is a beautiful designer and I loved the story. Judy C really thanks you.

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  28. Brenda's journey to quilting and her company is wonderful. Looking for fulfillment while inspiring others is a blessing for all of us.

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  29. It is always fun for me to read about people who seem to be born with a desire to work with fabric and thread. I feel like that was how it was for me. It was interesting to read how everything in Brenda's life seemed to prepare her for being a designer of beautiful pattterns now. I love the frosted windowpane design but they all would be fun to try.

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  30. Love it. First time I have seen her patterns.

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  31. I can relate to Brenda's love of working with fabric and thread. Her designs are so pretty! I would have to say the Home Comforts book would be one that I would love to have on my shelf!
    Thank you for having this giveaway!

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  32. Brenda's patterns are wonderful. I love Floye's Garden and can't wait to make By my Hand.
    Leona B

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  33. Your story reinforces my feelings that once you begin to recognize and love the beauty and feel of fabrics it is in your blood forever. Thanks to great mothers who surrounded and encircled us with fabrics and love.

    "By my Hand" brings back all of those memories of childhood, first embroidery stitches, etc.

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  34. I do not have the joy of owning "family" quilts but I hope that the quilts I am making will one day mean as much to my grandchildren as Brenda's do to her, I loved her story. Any of her quilts would be perfect for making history for my grandchildren

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  35. By My Hand is my favorit maybe because it's new but i really love it.

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  36. I love to cross stitch samplers, so when I saw the "By my hand" pattern, I knew I had to make it! It's a perfect combination of samplers and quilting, and by far my favorite!

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  37. Love all her patterns, but especially "Whooooo Loves You"--The owl is too cute! "By My Hand" is really special, too, though and so neat that it's a Block-of-the-Month!

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  38. I have loved this quilt design from the moment I saw it on Brenda's blog. As soon as I found it was printed and available--I bought one! "By my hand" touches the heart of many of us who love making things and sharing with others!

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  39. By My Hand is my favorite. I have always had a love for antique and vintage samplers and handwork. This pattern is beautiful! I hope I will be able to make it sometime soon. Thanks.

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  40. I love the memory about the special time the quilts got used...like when you were sick. Very sweet.

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  41. You can tell by her sweet smiling face and the tone of her books and patterns that Brenda is a joyful person. What I liked best was that everything she has designed is centered around family, home and comfort. My favorite, and what I would pick if I should be lucky enough to win is the By My Hand quilt. It's stunning and I'd love to make it.

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  42. I love that she wanted to work with kids and she did it! I like "Simple Things Small Joys". That's what's life's all about for me.

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  43. Like Brenda, I love to mix quilting with hand embroidery too-it makes the quilts even more personal. Thanks for sharing her delightful story...and the fact that she still substitute teaches-what a brave lady!
    Laurel in Granite Falls, WA

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  44. I love the part of the story of sneaking a peak at the quilt on the top shelf!
    Too cute! I think your new pattern BY HAND is beautiful!

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  45. I love the romance of her designs and fabrics. They're perfect.

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  46. It is so hard to choose a favorite pattern from Brenda's because I truly love them all. I'm hoping to very soon begin working on "Fond Wishes" a free pattern from her blog 'little acorns'. Also I think her new fabric collection Durham Anew is the most beautiful new fabric available right now!!! Okay...I think my favorite part of her story, is how she felt a sense of belonging when she was learning to stitch. I also remember sitting with my mom and sometimes grandma was there, as we crocheted afghans and doilies, or embroidered pillow cases and dish towels with 'days of the week designs'. Mom taught me to crochet when I was just 7 years old and now at 61, I still love making doilies...when my hands cooperate, LOL. I learned to embroider very young also. Some of my fondest memories are of our stitching time together, chatting and laughing, just enjoying each others company and love. Thanks so much Brenda for sharing your story and for reminding me of some of my most cherished times with mom. Big Hugs...

    PS...One of my dad's favorite sayings was "From little acorns grow..."!

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  47. I've been an admirer of Brenda's work and blog for a long time. On my must-make list is Coventry Stars from one of her books. Her new fabric line is so beautiful!!!

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  48. I like the part of her story about just being wrapped in one of those precious hand made quilts from the top shelf in the closet made her feel better! I love Brenda's palette, her fabrics are yummy! And my favorite BR design is her newest...BY MY HAND. It harkens back to the day of little girls learning to stitch on samplers...

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  49. It is wonderful to see that the pursuit of creative dreams brings great rewards to those who pursue them. Brenda's story is inspiring!
    simplytoled@msn.com

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  50. I have several of Brenda's patterns. My favorites are "Around the Corner" (can be done as a 2 color quilt or a Not so Shabby Chic with all soft colors from her beautiful collections)and "Winter Memories" both the Applique and
    Embroidery Versions are gorgeous.

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  51. Just wondering if you ever announced the winners of this giveaway? I might have missed it over the holidays.

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