Monday Musings: Good-bye to an Era

My favorite local quilting store is closing. (Cue the violins.)

Quilters Paradise in Old Town Clovis is where I took my quilting classes. I bought lots of fabric there. Which reminds me, I have some reward cards I better redeem quickly!

QPIt’s rare to find a shop so focused on customer service, quality products, and value.

The owners are always helpful. The dog hanging around the back classroom was calm and never demanding, but always grateful for an ear rub or tummy scratch.

 

Employees are knowledgeable. My first quilt top that I made in the Quilting 101 class turned out great, but I knew I would need help with the backing choice. So I toted in the Quilt toptop, laid it out and pleaded for advice. I walked out a few minutes later with the perfect fabric. (Don’t ask me if I’ve actually finished that quilt yet. Please.) I love the blue and gold with the cream, but I wasn’t sure if the backing should be dark or light. We ended up going with one of the medium golds for the backing fabric. I think it will look stunning when it is finished. Which I hope will be next year. I’m committed to not beginning a new project until I finish the three or four I have in progress.

There are a couple other quilt shops near me that I’ve never shopped at. And of course we have a Jo-Ann’s. So it looks like my quilting fabric loyalty is up for bids.

Do you have a local favorite shop? Or a favorite you make sure to visit on your travels?

 

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Monday Musings: Quilting Quandaries

Next week I’ll be on my way to Ireland and the UK. Trip of a lifetime, anniversary/birthday celebrations, and vacation all rolled into one.

For a knitter and quilter, this poses a problem.

Accessories for patchwork top view on a white surface

How much yarn and fabric should I buy?

Reasons for buying lots and lots of yardage and skeins:

  • I don’t know when or if I’ll ever return and have the opportunity to buy, so I want to have no regrets.
  • Fabric and yarn are fairly lightweight, and won’t add much bulk to my suitcase.
  • There might be patterns or colors not available here.

Reasons to forbear buying anything new and shiny and pretty:

  • With the internet, anything I see can probably be purchased later, just for more money and added shipping costs.
  • I have two completed quilt tops waiting to be finished and one partially pieced top waiting. I should not buy more fabric until those projects are completed.

See my problem?

But oh, the pretty pretty colors and patterns … Colorful balls of yarn on a wooden table

Monday Musings: So Many States …

I’m getting to check off two entries on my “States I Have Yet to Visit” list this week.

I’m in Fargo, North Dakota this week for a pesticide safety conference, for my part-time day job. Yes, I’ve seen the movie; no, I haven’t seen the television series.

img_8647I’ve never been to North Dakota, or Denver, where we had a layover yesterday. Denver was less mountainous than I’d expected, but still beautiful. Our less-than-an-hour-gonna-have-to-hustle-to-make-the-connecting-flight layover turned into five-plus hours, thanks to mechanical issues on a plane.

Since it’s important to me that any plane I fly on have no mechanical issues, I was just fine with the delay. The upside was my friend and boss has a daughter who lives in Denver,img_8641 and she readily agreed to come pick us up for dinner. And, of course, being introduced to Dion’s and their green chile pizza.

The downside was that I had finished my book and both magazines long before we finally landed in Fargo at 3 AM.

We were surprised and blessed to discover that the car rental agency had stayed open to accommodate our late flight, so we didn’t have to Uber or taxi or hitchhike to the hotel. I crawled into bed about 4:30 AM, Fargo time and managed to sleep a solid six hours.

We ventured to Fargo’s old town area, looking for lunch. The Smokehouse we found turned out to be closed on Sunday (not unusual, we soon discovered), so we went img_8643next door to Würst Bier Hall where we promptly ordered pretzels, wurst, porketta bánh mì, and french fries. Fabulous!! Stud Muffin would love that place, so I obviously have to come back.

After lunch, we walked around the old town area (gotta get some steps in after that lunch!), found a great coffee shop with scones (and a definite Seattle vibe), fun shops, and historic buildings. Dinner turned out to be peach kuchen and a root beer float at Krolls, a recommendation from our lunch server.

Don’t judge.

It’s now 8:00 Sunday evening. It’s only 6 PM in California, but my eyes are heavy. I won’t have a problem getting to sleep tonight. Tomorrow, we work!

Monday Musings: Don’t Be Safe. Be Good.

In the aftermath of last week’s election, a “movement” has gathered momentum on the Internet and Facebook. It’s the safety pin. It’s supposed to signify that the person wearing the pin is “safe,” to approach and talk to. I guess about anything that’s upsetting you, but is meant especially for the non-white non-heterosexual crowds.

safety-pin

 

 

I can see why wearing the pin would be appealing.

But, please, don’t.

Just don’t.

 

 

Who would ever approach a stranger with the intention of baring their soul? Unless they were paying $125 an hour for the privilege?

No one.

No one, except a true bigot/racist/hate monger looking for a target for their hate.

Don’t be a target.

Being “safe” for someone means having a relationship with them. It means talking together, laughing and crying together, having coffee and sharing a blueberry scone together.

I’m reminded of the C.S. Lewis quote from THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. Susan asked Mr. Beaver about Aslan the lion: “Is he–quite safe?” Mr. Beaver replied, “Safe? … ‘course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

I guarantee there are enough hurting people in your home, in your workplace, in your neighborhood, in your community. You don’t have to go looking for someone to be safe to or to be a listening ear.

Instead, look around you. Find someone hurting. Take them to coffee. Be in their life. Love them.

Don’t be safe.

Be good.

 

 

 

Monday Musings: Quilting as a Metaphor, Part II

I’m still musing about how quilting has so many life lessons, if only I would pay attention.

j-quilt

This is my second quilt.

It’s from a kit.

I purchased it more than a year before I finally put it together.

I thought it would be easy and quick. Which it was. Until it came to the satin patch just below the upper right.

 

While satin fabric is pretty to look at, it’s a pain to sew. It slips around. You can see I did a much better job on this quilt compared to last week’s. My seams are straight and even. Except for around those darn satin patches. I ended up have to zigzag them into place.

The extra stitches don’t really show. And they really don’t matter to darling Grand#2. She loves the quilt and still sleeps with it. I think you can tell from her expression how she feels about this quilt. She’s asked for a larger version because she’s growing and the quilt no longer fits on top of her. I’d love to fulfill her request, but I have two other grands who are still waiting for their quilts.

This quilt had a definite “make it work” moment. Instead of giving up when I had a problem with quirky fabric, I had to figure out a way around the problem. No one but me cares that the fabric is zigzagged instead of pieced traditionally. The quilt is warm and cozy and cuddles just the same. And the owner couldn’t be happier.

 

 

Monday Musing: Quilting as a Metaphor

I first quilted 30+ years ago. I wasn’t very good. I was still in the “close is good enough” phase of my sewing. I had crooked seams, strips that resembled a weird trapezium more
than a rectangle. I still have one of my early efforts and to prove that I have basically no pride, I’ll post a picture.

quiltYeah. See that strip on the left.

Yep. I sewed that. And more egregiously, I left it!

Oy vey.

Fast forward a couple of decades and my sewing skills (and standards) were considerably higher and I decided to try another quilt.

But a small one. An easy one.

So I bought a kit for an expected grand-daughter. I planned to have it done before she was born. I think I had it to her before her second birthday. Give or take.

 

I really enjoy the process of piecing the quilt top. I’m less enamored of the actual quilting. I have several quilt tops done and ready for the backing and batting step. I have the batting and the backing fabric. I just can’t seem to bring myself to pin them together.

It’s a symptom, I’m afraid, of a larger problem. And I know I’m not alone. Finishing a project. I think I caught it from Stud Muffin. We have many home projects that are thisclose to be done. My office threshold was duct tape for nearly two years until I insisted he finish it. Friends often comment that they have the same problem.

Why is this? Anyone know??

The next few Mondays will be spent on quilting. I’ll try to get a picture of that baby quilt. It has one off square (free hint: do not try to piece satin or silky fabrics. They slide all over the place and are very difficult to work with).

The current stories I’m working on are set in Harts Leap, a fictional cross of Paso Robles, Stars Hollow, and Bass Lake, located where the real Bass Lake sits. In story number one, a local quilt shop, Pieces of My Heart, has a large role. I get to use some of my quilting knowledge in the story. And even more fun, every quilt is beautiful! No crooked seams!

Do you quilt? If yes, what do you love about quilting? If no, why not? And do you have a problem finishing projects? If yes, why do you think that’s so?

 

 

Monday Musings

So after a few weeks of being a lazy blogger, I’ve been thinking about how to change things up a bit. My struggle with blogging has always been how to make it relevant to readers.

Let’s face it: no one really cares what I think or do about a given issue. ask

I mean, my family cares (I hope), but the world at large? Not so much.

I’m not an expert on anything.

I raised kids. I kept the home. And there are plenty of others already blogging on those topics with far more impressive credentials than mine.

After talking with my agent last week (–will I ever get tired of saying that? I don’t think so–) I’ve decided to retool the blog a bit, to make it more reflective of the series I’m currently working on.

The Harts Leap books are set in a resort town just outside of Yosemite. This is an area I’m well acquainted with. There is a quilt shop there that has a fairly prominent role in the first book. I’ve done some quilting. There is also a hoarder. I don’t really know anything about this topic that would make me an expert, but I can do some research.

So, my tentative plan for the blog is:

creative people iconsMonday Musings: My personal thoughts

Book Talk Tuesday: Book reviews as before

Wednesday Wanderings: Thoughts on travel, particularly around Yosemite

Thursday: Occasional Author Spotlights and Cover Reveals, as before

Food Talk Friday: Recipes and Restaurants, as before

That’s my plan! And those are my thoughts for my first Monday Musings. Thanks for stopping by.

Is there anything in particular you’d be interested in hearing about? I’d love for some reader feedback!