Last Wednesday, I hadn't heard from my friend Joan Hawley in a couple of days. And, while that wasn't that unusual, something didn't feel right.
I sent a quick text, asking if everything was okay, then went about my business.
Several hours later, I received a reply from Joan's husband, Michael, telling me the terrible news that Joan passed away suddenly.
It was a gut-punch.
I read that text maybe a hundred times, expecting, each time, that I'd see the words differently. That I missed something on all previous reads of the message. And then, everything would be okay.
But it wasn't okay. My friend, collaborator, and co-conspirator was gone.
From that moment of tragic realization, I became determined to hold all my best memories of Joan, our time together, and our conversations close to my heart. Allow me to share some of my memories with you. . .
Joan started her business, Lazy Girl Designs, 25 years ago. In this industry, as in any industry, that's an extraordinary accomplishment for a small business.
I got my first sewing machine and learned to sew in 2003. By 2004, I entered a fun competition at the local quilt shop featuring the Veronica Pocketbook by Lazy Girl Designs - entries had to fall into one of several different themes. All of Joan's patterns are very easy to follow and make, even for someone as inexperienced as I was back then. As you can see, I went for a bird theme, even then.
As I gained sewing experience, I made several shop samples for the local quilt shop. Many of them bags, almost always from Lazy Girl Designs. I forget the exact moment when I was in conversation with the shop owner and she kept referring to 'Joan' - wait, is that me-Joan or the other-Joan?
And the 'Other Joan' handle stuck. At least in local conversation. Shortly thereafter, I met Joan Hawley at Quilt Market, the big semi-annual quilt industry trade show, and shared the 'other Joan' story with her.
And a debate began. . . who exactly was the other Joan? Joan Hawley was an established pattern designer long before I was. So that made me the Other Joan. Right? No, wait. . .
Flash forward several years, and Joan Hawley and I were much better acquainted. She approached me at my Quilt Market booth during set-up. This was about the time that The FLOCK was fairly new.
She had an idea about using the Lazy Girl Stiff Stuff interfacing with the bird blocks to make ornaments. That idea didn't work out . . .
. . .But the idea stayed in my head and it's coming to fruition in a new project (the heart(s) series, right), not available yet, but coming to the Hummingbird Highway.
All her products, her patterns and interfacings, reflect the extreme research, detail, and perfectionism she is known for. Her interfacing products are the best in the business! Face-it Soft and Stiff Stuff are my favorites and show up in a lot of my projects.
Joan had her finger on the pulse of just about everything in the sewing and quilting industry. And The FLOCK caught her attention shortly after it was introduced about 4 years ago. At that time, we chatted and she asked me a few questions about my business. I shared with her that I belong to an exclusive marketing coaching group. And soon, so did she.
That means, over the past 3-4 years, we talked frequently as part of the coaching group, which naturally spilled over to personal 'business.'
When Joan tried something new, she was passionate about it.
Maybe about a year or two ago, she purchased a $10 mini waffle iron, and started posting about her adventures with waffles that were no larger than 6" in diameter.
Curious, I got sucked in and bought a mini iron, too! It's the dumbest thing in my kitchen cabinet space!
I had to try it because Joan made everything look so good. She found online groups that shared mini waffle recipes, researched different kinds of waffles - sweet and savory - and got totally immersed in mini-waffle making.
I used mine exactly once. Not my cup of tea.
Then there was baking.
I'm pretty sure this may have been all my fault. Via text, we shared various baking conversations. At one point, I asked her if she had a good mixer.
We both bought new Kitchen Aid mixers within a week of each other. I upgraded and she was a first-time Kitchen Aid buyer. During the pandemic, no less. Everyone was baking, and the color choices and model options were limited.
In typical Joan fashion, she asked a lot of questions, then joined baking groups online, and found all kinds of cake recipes, donuts, bread, and experimented.
I tend to like simple, delicious, tried-and-true recipes, and I shared my favorite cupcake recipe with her. My mom found the recipe about 50 years ago on the side of a Spry container.
It became one of her favorite recipes, too. At one point she mentioned having a half-cupcake left from the batch.
A half-cupcake? What?? A cupcake, by definition, is a single serving.
There are no HALF cupcakes!
That debate went on way longer than any conversation about pattern editing or business stuff.
After I learned of Joan's passing, any negative self-talk I had about concerns over travel (I'm headed to Europe for a long overdue, and oft rescheduled vacation this week) were left in the dust.
Life is too short, and too delicate to put off the things that matter to you. I pulled out my Lazy Girl Designs Lexi Carryall bag, and it's coming with me.
Joan and I will be traveling together.
Certainly, Joan was a collaborator, an innovator, a cheerleader, a spell-checker, a baking co-conspirator, and a brutal Words-With-Friends adversary (nine times out of ten she left me in the dust), but I became better in all these areas because of her.
But what I'll miss most about Joan is her sense of humor. She wasn't the least bit shy about jumping into a photo opportunity poster at a Japanese restaurant. . .
Or sending a silly holiday greeting, complete with appropriate costumes . . .
Nearly all of our message strings included a laughing emoji or LOL somewhere in the thread. Her wit has left me, happily, with many Joan-ism phrases that will stay with me forever and make me smile.
There will never be an-other Joan like the Other Joan.
And I miss her. I miss her a great deal.
The Lazy Girl Designs website is still open for business and many, if not all, of her patterns are available to download instantly.