One aspect of my REAL job (or that thing that gets in the way of my quilting as I like to call it) is that I get to travel all over the countryside visiting different hospitals, nursing homes, city and village clerks, and residences of the families my company serves. That leads to many miles in the car (sometimes hundreds) every day passing over hills and little back country roads with all sorts of sights to see: farm stands, country stores, barns, covered bridges, and most importantly quilt shops!! Yes, it's true, I brake for fabric people! I'm like a hawk when it comes to spotting places that sell fabric of any kind. The first question I ask any clerk after we're finishing up the paper filing is, "Any local quilt shops around?" Get the picture?
I happened upon a quilt shop today that my grandmother has been telling me about for quite a while. I knew it was there, tucked away in Fly Creek, NY. I've passed by it many times, but I never stopped. Don't know why. Today, as I saw it grow closer in the car window I decided to stop and I met Margaret Wolff.
When I arrived at the shop I opened the door to be greeted right away by a large chocolate lab and 2 springer spaniels. They all took notice of my entry and immediately sized me up, circling and wagging. I looked to my right where Margaret was standing behind the counter and said, "Hi" with a smile. She returned with an enthusiastic "Good afternoon!" and quickly explained that the large lab was her grand dog who was visiting for the day. She doesn't normally have this much "help" at the store. I let her know that the dog security guards were no problem at all and reached my hand down to scratch the labs ear. He tilted his head sideways toward my hand and closed his eyes almost smiling. I made a new friend. One that thought he needed to follow me along the first aisle of fabric till Margaret grabbed him and headed him in the other direction.
Now, in the past I have always been a "Type A" shopper. I routinely go up and down every aisle scanning the shelves for anything that catches my eye. I do it at the grocery store, I do it at chain stores, it drives my wife nuts. I work my way from one side of the store to the other. Fabric shops are no different. I look at everything. You never know when your going to find the last few bolts of Flea Market Fancy! Honey, remember that trip to Quilt Market at the end of October you said you'd go with me to? How many hundreds of vendors are there going to be? Consider yourself warned! LOL
After my furry shopping partner left I got down to the serious business of treasure finding while Margaret took a phone call.
I admit, I had been on the Heartworks website a few times checking to see if it was worth a visit. I find LQS's that carry modern fabrics few and far between in my area. The quilters here tend to gravitate towards the country florals and pastels. I like bright and bold. After clicking around for a few minutes I found that she carried Moda, Robert Kaufman, Windham, P & B, the usuals. I found a few pictures of Wild Thyme by Carolyn Gavin which seemed an adventurous choice and one I liked, so I filed it the back of my mind for the next time work took me by the place.
By the time I made it through the first few shelves of fabric Margaret was off the phone and we chatted a little. I spoke about how I was working on some quilts for the Moda Bake Shop and we admired some bolts from their new line Breakfast at Tiffany's. I mentioned that my grandmother shops here quite a bit and she knew who she was as soon as I said her name. I told her I wasn't looking for anything in particular, just wanted to "check the shop out." After a few minutes she excused herself to the back room where she had several machines set up to continue work on a project. As she started her sewing machine back up I wandered through the rest of the aisles and found some Early Bird by Cosmo Cricket and some Robert Kaufman polka dot fabric that I scooped up and took to the cutting counter. While I was shuffling to the front of the shop with my loot Margaret poked her head out of the back room and said, "There's more fabric back here. The flannels and Christmas fabrics are upstairs. We are after all the Queens of Flannel!"
She was right! Upstairs were bolts upon bolts of flannel and an entire wall of Christmas fabric. One new line in particular that caught my eye was Bliss by Bonnie and Camille in flannel. The colors in that line are the perfect shade of red and aqua. YUM! I resisted scooping them up to carry downstairs knowing I already had a growing pile of cotton bolts on the cutting table. I did sit there for a few minutes just to stare at the mesmerising dots and flowers that seemed to jump out on the almost glowing aqua backdrop.
After nearly busting my fabric budget for this month and next with the bolts of Bliss flannel, I trotted back downstairs to let Margaret know I was all set. We chatted a little more about quilts and fabric. She mentioned that my grandmother has made a few quilts for her "Jimmy Fund" project. Her shop gives out packs of fabric to anyone willing to make quilts to be donated to the Jimmy Fund Clinic in the Cancer Center for Children at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass. They've also been active in the American Hero Quilt Project giving quilts to the wounded returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
As we were walking to the register so I could pay for my purchases Margaret turned to me and asked if she could take my picture for her newsletter. I said sure and my cheeks must have turned red because she nonchalantly said, "It only goes out to about 2800 people." Needless to say, I was very flattered that she wanted to talk about me in her newsletter. She snapped a few photos of me standing in front of some bolts of Breakfast at Tiffany's. We exchanged a little more information and I handed her one of my business cards with my website and contact information before I left.
Please check out Margaret's website and online store. It's full of pictures and information about classes and workshops they offer. Shes an award winning quilter and has been teaching quilting since 1989. Currently her quilts are hanging in Australia, England, Wales, Denmark, Japan, Ireland, and the American Embassy in Kenya, as well as in many states in the USA. One aspect of her business I'm very interested in is her Quilt Inn where she hosts over night retreats for groups of six to eight that can be custom designed. The Litco Farms Bead and Breakfast where the retreats are held sits right next door to the quilt shop.
I was very glad I decided to stop and even more grateful that I met a very warm and friendly shop owner. You made me feel very welcome Margaret! One note: I forgot to bring my camera with me today (I normally take it everywhere) so I had to borrow the photos for this post from the Heartworks website.
Oh, and dear Bliss flannel, I'll be back real soon to get you. Please save some for me Margaret! :)