Archive for January, 2009

Rediscovering the Thrill of the Hunt

January 15, 2009

I realized something this past November while stomping around San Francisco, trying to hit as many fabric shops as I possibly could.

I miss the hunt.  

It’s been 23 years since my boyfriend-now-husband-of-20-years told me I needed a productive hobby. All of my pursuits were academic, and he saw that I could use a creative outlet.  I had given up sewing in high school when friends made fun of my clothing designs (hey, now!  Those harem pants looked GOOD in terry cloth!!) and I hadn’t thought about it much until he presented me with an inexpensive little Kenmore sewing machine and set me on my way.

And the hunt began.  I began to quilt.  And collect fabric.  And collect fabric.  And collect fabric.  What started out as a shelf or two in my tiny apartment linen closet has become an entire storage room, plus every available inch of closet space plus a good quarter of our family room–and that’s just the boxes of fabric.  I’m beginning to eye the house for sale two doors down thinking it might just be time to expand a little . . .

But back-story aside, things have changed a lot in the past 23 years.  For one thing,  Bright yellow.  All I ever used to desire was bright yellow.  Back then, you could not find a sunshine-colored quilting fabric to save your life.  Highly saturated colors were difficult to come by, and some quilt shops even balked at providing high-end or designer fabrics (Jinny Beyer, for instance) because they didn’t want to have to sell anything for more than $5 a yard.  We were living in Calico City, Baby!

No one shop ever seemed to carry an entire line in all colorways, so it was a real adrenaline rush to go on a road trip to a far-away shop, or stop by when you happened to pass a shop you never knew existed.  There were always fun discoveries in fabric.  Picking through the bolts, you might find a couple that you thought might just go with that one purple you bought last Spring when you were driving through Ohio . . .  I never understood how anyone could walk into a single store and be satisfied to put together only the selections available there to make a quilt.  For me, there was always one more fabric I could find to fit in any given quilt design–and it was out there, somewhere.  I used to be able to tell you exactly where I purchased each piece!  I still can with some of my older fabrics.  

And then–many years later–the internet came on the scene.  And it was wonderful in its own pink-cheekedness!  Some of the early shops (still missing Pinetree Quiltworks) online aren’t around anymore, and some of them went on to Brick-and-Mortar greatness as well as their online presence.  The hunt took on a different pace–the pace of a dial-up connection-trying-to-load-graphics (anyone remember r.c.t.q?)!  Ah, such fun.  Click enter, go do the dishes, and come back to the computer when you think the page might be done loading (go, Gopher!)!  New social opportunities also arose with quilting Listservs.  Best friends were made (take a bow, Mrs. Schmenkman!), road trips and meet-ups with online friends to visit their favorite quilt shops took place.  International quilting visitors welcome!

And the fabric collection expanded.  So did the sewing machine collection.  And moved from state to state to state–all with love and support from He-Who-Pays-the-Bills.  And the internet got faster and more populated by brilliant web designers who specialized in selling fabrics.  And by quilt shop owners who had the smarts to strut their stuff.  Now the huntress, she is getting a little lazy and shopping in her silkies with a glass of pinot grigio at her side–not that there’s anything wrong with that!  

And while I adore combing local shops,  I now live in a place that has very few small shops, so it’s just easier to browse online.  And the full-line designer accessibility that Moda began is sooooo easy.  (A nod to The Cotton Club, who started out online waaaay back selling just charm packs.)  And beautiful!  And what could be easier than following that link in the shop email I signed up for?  Oh, UPS man, how I love thee!    

But this last fall reminded me of the rush a huntress gets when the smell of the sizing hits her as she walks through the door of the quilt shop.  Lugging bolts under her arms as she stalks around the shelves, looking for a perfect coordinating fuschia dot to go with that gold and purple flower, discovering that maybe she does need to add to her collection of grays . . . the hunt is good!

So I have concluded that while I love the jellyrolls, layer cakes, charm packs, and all those other beautifully presented collections offered up by the designers and fabric companies, I’d like to get back to my fabric hunting roots.  I’ll likely keep buying the charms and fat quarter bundles when it suits me, but I’m going to focus my efforts on hunting down that next perfect piece of fabric wherever I go.

The irony is not lost on me that my best hunting grounds right now might just be located in my own house.  It’s pretty sad how memory is failing me–but each trip into the storage room brings me new joy at re-discovering the perfect fabric that I already own.

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Economizing–Kinda

January 15, 2009

Store brand Nutella?!  Get.  Out!

nutellaI think I let out a little squeal when I came across this in the peanut-butter-and-jelly aisle the other day.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather save money on my indulgences than give them up all together.  Store brand pretzels, too!  It tastes just the same as the real thing (the real Americanized version of the real Italian original, that is!)  

nutellasockThis is sock number two of a pair that was supposed to be finished for Christmas.  I’m pretty sure it’s Socks That Rock but I can’t find the colorway (heaven knows where the band is), and it’s definitely Queen Kahuna‘s easy lace pattern. Luckily, the recipient’s birthday is in February.  I’m going to be ready–if I can keep my fingers out of the chocolate long enough to knit!

What Have I Done for Me Lately?

January 14, 2009

Christmas 2008 has come and gone.  I didn’t bake.  I barely decorated.  I got about half my Christmas cards sent out.  I only finished one hand-made present, a little table topper for my sister-in-law.

kaffebubblesThe contractors were here through New Year’s Eve.  It was definitely a good thing, but regular holiday festivities had to be postponed or cancelled.  After removing the walls between the kitchen and living area, we decided to go ahead and construct some new ones downstairs.  I gave up what was supposed to be studio space so that my work-at-home husband could have his own office.   It’s an awesome room and he loves it.  

There is a cascading effect to home improvements.  Walls have to come out before the floors can be laid.  The floors have to be laid to get them out of what will soon be my studio space.  New book shelves have to be installed so that books can be removed from old shelving that will be torn apart so that new fabric storage  can be constructed.  Space has to be lived in and used for a while before final design decisions can be made.  It’s a long process, but definitely worth the time to do it all right.

In the mean time and in between time, a few finishing touches have been placed here and there, like one of my new Susan Sargent rugs for the living room.

susansargentOrange is suddenly playing a larger role in my color palate.  I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s really working for me!

markquiltI actually finished piecing a few quilt tops, and have this one ready to quilt.  There is still an embarrassing backlog, but what else is new?

Worth the Wait

January 13, 2009

My DQ5 partner, Scott Hansen of Blue Nickel Studios sent me the most fabulous quilt!  It was a little late, but worth it . . 

hansenquilt1hansenquilt2He also added some yummies like chocolates and a great scrap bag featuring bits and pieces–including a few that are just now showing up in shops!  I love it all!

Skip on over to Spoonflower and vote on Scott’s Punk Andy design–it’s one of the this week’s contest designs!