The History behind House of Hanson

This web page was last updated

Friday, May 14, 2010

On January 15, 1997 we registered our domain name for our website. Two years earlier we had come up with the name "House of Hanson". We liked the name because it was able to be used for almost any business we might get into. Jeff liked it because water is H20 and is often written HOH by chemist to stress the makeup of the water molecule. Namely hydrogen and the hydroxyl radical or OH. 

Since we are both pilots we use to go to "The Flying Lady" in Morgan Hill, CA. It has since closed. However, it was one of the world's largest restaurants (square footage or seating I never can remember). They had an airplane museum, pilot gift shop, golf course and many other things. The man behind it all was NOT a pilot. His wife was. But, rumor has it that he was smart enough to name the entire business after his wife. That way when he spent all that money and time on his business his wife really couldn't get angry with him because he was doing it all for her. After all he named it after her. Have you ever noticed how many yachts are named a female name?

And, for those of you who have met Jackie you know how she throws herself into whatever she does. And, to this day Jeff somewhat thinks the reason the name House of Hanson came to be was it allowed Jackie to throw herself into her business without guilt, after all she named it after her husband Jeff Hanson.

In 1996 we attended a local Sewing and Crafts show at the San Mateo Expo. There was a Gammill dealer there, Ron Hedelius of QuickQuilts, with a booth and working longarm. We had never seen a longarm. The rest of the day Jackie's brain was working overtime. We went home and got online and couldn't find anything about longarm machines. Back then the only thing we could find was one lady (Cindy) on the east coast who was active on one of the sewing newsgroups. She had mentioned tidbits in her messages to others so that when we did a search her name and email address would come up now and again. So we looked up her telephone number and because she had a home based longarm business we found her telephone number fairly quickly. We called her and must have talked to her for over an hour. She was very helpful and supportive of us in our questioning.

So Jackie got all the specs on all the machines she could find and drew up a matrix of features. She decided on the Gammill Optimum and ordered one from Ron Hedelius. Ron delivered it to our home. As it turns out Ron stayed for early dinner and continued to his next delivery somewhere in the San Francisco Bay area. If you know Jackie you know she is a gourmet cook. Ron would swing by when in the area (he and his wife Fawn lived in Rigby, Idaho) to drop off something or show us something or help us with something on the machine. We would co-ordinate his visits with dinner when possible and this arrangement worked out great for all of us.

Meanwhile, Jeff got the House of Hanson web site going and was learning how to upload to the server, add photos, etc. If was great fun even back then with all the stubborn software and 14,400 baud modem. Jackie started practicing on the longarm. I remember she practiced for 18 months before she "hung out her sign" so to speak. Jackie has always been an expert sewist (photos of some of the porcelain doll costumes she has done are on our site linked off the home page), but she never had pieced nor quilted before because taking perfectly good yardage and cutting it up and sewing them all back together seemed like a terrible waste of time. So BOTH of us took one quilt class so that we would know what the piecer goes through before they get to us to have their quilt top sandwiched with batting and a backing fabric. Jackie took several other quilt classes after that and you can see some of her work linked off our home page.

Then we went to Rigby, Idaho to attend a 3 day class with Fawn and Ron Hedelius at their shop. They had 4 machines set up and 2 of us per machine. We had a field trip to the local fabric store which was a lot of fun of course. Ron had made arrangements with Mike at The Blacksmith Inn Bread and Breakfast for the students to stay. Each bed in the Inn had a quilt that was done by Ron and/or Fawn. Pretty neat incentive to pay attention in class.

On May 5, 1997 Bona Robinson started the Longarm email list. This was about 3 weeks before the first MQS was scheduled. I don't remember how we heard about the list, but we quickly joined within the first week and the list took off thanks to all of Bona's hard work. It was the first list dedicated to longarming and is still very much active today. Jackie and I would read the list and post messages and folks would discuss all sorts of things involving longarming. Sometimes it would be a photo of a modification or a close up of needles or a chart. We would post that information to our site and then leave a message for the longarm list. This is how our web site got so much exposure in the beginning. We were able to do things for the benefit of the list membership because of our web site. Back then we were about the only website on longarming. It didn't take long and web pages multiplied and there were other players. Our purpose however was education. We tried to have a site where folks could go to learn all about longarming. We wanted to provide the sort of information we couldn't find when we first started out. We wanted a simple story with photos on how a longarm quilts a quilt. Something youngsters could find on the internet and do homework on the topic of longarming. We also wanted to provide a glossary of some of the more "interesting" or controversial terms within the industry. These are some of the things that makes our site interesting.

About this time we got word from Ron Hedelius that Marcia Stevens was having the first Machine Quilters Showcase. It was to be in Duluth, Minnesota. We heard about the MQS just a few days before it was to happen. We made a snap decision to go even though hotels were full and the first MQS was timed to be at the same time as another major Minnesota Quilt Show to draw some of the hand quilters to come see what machine quilters could do. We drove from California and arrived a day early. We were fortunate enough to got a room at the same hotel that the MQS was held in because of a last minute cancellation as we happen to be at the front desk inquiring about a room.

We spent the next several days taking 35mm photos of almost every quilt there except the last minute arrivals that got put up here and there scattered around the hall wherever there was room. We took the photos for ourselves since we didn't know anyone there and we were new to the industry.

After the show there was a meeting to discuss the MQS and ask for suggestions and answer any questions such as would there be another show next year and where might it be held. About 60 people showed and someone asked if anyone took photos of all the quilts. Tom Stevens had taken video of the MQS with the hope to make a video perhaps. We offered that we had taken photos of most of the quilts, but certainly not all of the quilts. Someone else asked if there was anyway someone could upload pictures to the internet. Jackie looked at me and I looked at her and "Bingo" we had a theme for our brand new web site.

Of course told everyone there what our web site was and that we had just got it online about 5 months earlier and that we would make an effort to scan in all our pictures and upload them to the internet. We spent the next month with Jackie doing all the scanning, cropping and touch-up (some too dark or too light) and Jeff uploaded them online. Fortunately, Marcia had printed show program booklets with all the quilt information of each quilt (except the last minute arrivals ... no quilts were turned away back then because Marcia was afraid there might not be enough quilts, to have a showcase. No one knew because this had never been done before on a national level.)

We looked at each photo we had taken and then went through about 200 quilt descriptions in the program booklet and tried to guess which quilt was which. This was a great way for us to learn what an Irish Chain was or a Lone Star quilt. If we had known we were going to need to match the photos with the pictures we would have taken notes. As we uploaded each group of 25 quilt photos we let the longarm list know and the emails started coming in. Quilt 119 was actually quilt 206 and so on. Some folks had a quilt at the show, but it was a late arrival and we didn't have a photo of it. So they would send us a photo of their quilt for us to use. Then some of our photos just didn't turn out or do justice to the winning quilts. We would ask and folks would come through with a good photo to use in place of ours. By the end of the first year we finally had all the quilts properly identified and every quilt's photo was online.

April 15-17, 1998, Marcia Stevens taught 3 days of classes at our home. She came back about a year later to teach a second set of classes. It was during the first set of classes that we met Marge and George Goumas (they also attended the second set of classes a year later). They are from Cerritos, California and the four of us quickly became friends.

By the time the second MQS came around we got smart and purchased a digital camera for Jackie to use as they were just coming out. (You see the photo you just took BEFORE you moved on to the next quilt. If the photo wasn't good enough you can take another one before moving on.) She went around with Marge and took photos of each quilt. Jackie photographed and Marge recorded the quilt number to co-ordinate with the show program. George and I went around and took 35mm close-ups and backup photos of the winning quilts that would be needed for magazines and other publications such as Marcia Stevens "Unlimited Possibilities". Somewhere in here George was asked to put together a slide show for the awards banquet. He suggested using PowerPoint as he was already familiar with it.

By the third MQS Jackie and Marge wanted to take classes at MQS and the number of quilts had grown in number. So George and I took over that task an we divided up the quilts by number and took photos. George also took the special photos for the banquet and awards presentation dinner.

By the fourth MQS Jackie's Dad was getting up there in age and we didn't think we could leave him alone so we stayed home. George ended up taking all the photos with Marge's help and then when he got home he put them on a CD and sent them up to me to upload to the web site. By this time the technology was such that the digital photos were comparable to 35mm photos, but to get that resolution the file size of the photos had increased. This meant a slower download or longer time to see the quilt photos online. So George started putting the photos on CD and started distributing them to those who wanted them. This quickly got out of hand and George expanded to a commercial CD duplicator -- making 3 copies from the original CD.

Somewhere in here it became obvious to me that there was another part of longarming that wasn't being represented properly. I would read on the longarm list where someone would announce that they were quitting longarming for various reasons and they had their machine up for sale. We would receive email from family members that a longarm person in a family had passed away and the family wanted to sell the longarm machine. Did I have any ideas? It seemed natural that as folks got into longarming others might be leaving the industry. These machines are big, expensive, heavy and cumbersome. Selling them presented problems for the seller and everyone was sticking there head in the sand and ignoring reality. It was considered bad taste to let folks know you had a machine for sale on the list. Some folks considered such a post as commercial in nature and inappropriate. So out of reluctant frustration we started posting ads for sellers on our website. It didn't take long to confirm there was a need. And, as we fine tuned our operation we were able to help the seller write better ads. We would walk them through the selling process and help them deal with the scam artists. We update their ads with price changes, "Sale Pending" notations, and leave the ad up for as long as necessary. We exchange email with each seller and we try to monitor how their ad is doing for them. If they aren't getting emails/calls from buyers we put our collective heads together and rewrite their ad so that it starts to work for them. We do quite a bit of behind the scenes work with some of the sellers. It depends on how much help the seller needs and what sort of problems they run into during the selling process. This also helps the buyers who checks our site regularly for new machine listings. We try to standardize the ads so that the buyer can peruse the ads quickly because they are the ones we are trying to encourage to visit often. The sellers if given the option wants their ads to "stand out".

So the House of Hanson web site started out as the first online quilt show so to speak. It was the unofficial web site for the MQS as we worked closely with Tom and Marcia Stevens to put online the classes, teachers, hotels, maps, directions, schedules of events etc for each MQS as the year went by. After the MQS was sold to the IMQA, the MQS information was appropriately moved from our site to the IMQA site. We still support and duplicate some of the MQS information and other shows because those in the industry know they can find a link or the information on the HOH site.

Addendum:  Jackie (Jacqueline Ann Waide) fought cancer for over a year and lost her battle January 21, 2006 at home. Jackie will be missed by those who knew her, but she will NEVER be forgotten by those who loved her.

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This web site was last updated

Friday, May 14, 2010

Changes: Jackie's photo added