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Teaching Children to Sew

I don’t remember learning to sew. It is something I have always done. I don’t remember learning to thread a needle or making a knot or taking a first stitch. I do remember sitting in a grocery store at age 5, waiting for my mother to shop and knitting. I only remember that because people were amazed that this small child was knitting. I don’t remember learning to knit either.

What children are exposed to at an early age, even if they are not adept, they still feel they “know how to do it.”

My granddaughter at age five likes to sew. She probably won’t remember learning because it is just something she knows. When she was just a baby she was fascinated watching me stitch. Then one day at age 10 months I saw her pick up two of my patches and rub them next to each other like she was sewing. A few months later crawling across the kitchen floor, she found a needle I had dropped. She held it carefully in her hand, crawled over to me and said “Here you go, Grandma”.

She was two when I had her “help me sew”. I would start a stitch and have her pull the needle through. I was using my tiny betweens 11 needle and a single thread and I showed her how to close her hand over the thread as she pulled so the needle wouldn’t come unthreaded.

Polly3 copyAt age three and a half she was cutting with small scissors. I remember one day the baby sitter came and saw her with the scissors and quickly took them away saying those were for grownups. She got huge crocodile tears and her feelings were so hurt. She said, “But I can sew. I’m a good sewer, and I can cut carefully with scissors”.

Every time I go to visit, I have a sewing project with me and Polly always asks if she can help. Mostly I’ve been working with diamonds and I give her some to sew together. The last time I went I had squares. She said, “But I like sewing with diamonds. They are easier to sew than squares.”

She has figured some things out on her own. For instance, she has a hard time putting the needle in and pulling it back out and she figured that if she pinched the fabric she could put the needle through and get her in-out stitch at one time.

September is National Sewing Month and it has had me thinking about what starts us sewing and what we can do to pass it on. In next week’s blog, I’ll share with you how those around me are helping spread their love of sewing. I’d love to hear from you about how you have sparked that interest in children: studio@jinnybeyer.com.

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It’s not always about quilting!

SourdoughWhen you put a lot of time and effort into a quilt, it would be a personal disaster to lose it. Well, other things are similar.

I almost had a disaster the other day. My cleaning lady was in the kitchen and I just caught her in time as she was about ready to rinse out a bowl that appeared to have nothing but a little white substance in the bottom. Mind you, the bowl was covered with a dish cloth, but when she looked underneath,  she didn’t see anything special and was ready to clean the bowl.

It was my 44 year old sourdough starter!!!!

Let me backtrack. My husband and I and our three children lived in India from 1970-1972. At that time, it was impossible to buy good bread and it was also difficult to find yeast that was reliable. So I did some research and decided to make a sourdough starter.

It was easy enough to make. You need raw milk (I used water buffalo milk), a cup of flour, a wooden spoon and a glass or pottery container (never use metal bowls or spoons).

I mixed the milk and flour together and covered it with a dishtowel and left it at room temperature for about five days. You want it to be about 80 degrees…..not too hot and not too cold. If it starts to dry out during that time, add a little lukewarm water. Once it has a good sour aroma and starts to bubble, it is ready to use.

I always keep about two cups in the refrigerator. Most recipes will call for a cup of starter. When I want to use it, I take it from the refrigerator, let it get to room temperature and after I take the cup for my recipe, I add a cup of flour and a cup of water. I let it sit overnight until it bubbles and then I have my two cups again to put in the refrigerator.

My most recent almost disaster occurred when I realized I had not used my starter for a while. When that happens, it is apt to get black on top…….not to worry. It has happened to me many times. I pour off the liquid that has formed on the top, then take a wooden spoon and scrape off all the black. I keep cleaning my spoon each time and scraping until I get down to the white dough. In this case, I was practically at the bottom of the crock when I got to the clean starter. In fact, I only had about two tablespoons.

But that is fine, I just mix it with two tablespoons of water and two tablespoons of flour and let it sit overnight until it bubbles. Then the next day, I add four tablespoons of flour and four of water and keep this up until I have my two cups once again.

My starter was at the two tablespoon stage when Maxi thought it was just something left over in a bowl. Thank goodness I caught her in time!

Sourdough starter can be used for any bread recipe. The night before, mix a cup of starter with about 2/3rds of the flour called for then, in the morning, proceed with the recipe. You can eliminate the yeast.

My Grandkids helping me make chocolate sourdough cake
My Grandkids helping me make chocolate sourdough cake

I use my starter for French bread, other breads, waffles, pancakes, English muffins and, our most favorite, Sourdough Chocolate cake.

I would be devastated if I lost my starter……it has been like an old friend all these years.

 

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Enjoying My Stolen Moments

It’s been quite busy here at the Studio. Even though two new lines of fabrics have just come out, I’ve been working on several new collections for the coming year. I’ve been designing new projects to go along with all of this fabric. I’ve been traveling. And, I’ve been sewing.

I’ve had a so much fun piecing my latest design, a quilt for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest, coming in November. If you read our September newsletter, you saw a little peak at it. Here is a little bit more.  I should be able to show the quilt with some of the appliqué background in the next couple of weeks.

QQ Star

This Lone Star quilt will combine piecing and appliqué. I first started doing this about 20 years ago with soft-edge piecing.

Renaissance Garden
Renaissance Garden

For another Quest a few years ago, the Midnight Garden quilt and tote combined beautiful appliqué created by staff member Diane Kirkhart along with my central pieced design.

mid basket- finalThe introduction of new appliqué tools to the market inspired me to create another quilt combining piecing and appliqué. The color palette for this year’s Quest is made up of vibrant jewel tones and I’ve used these colors to create my Lone Star. In what is normally just empty background around the star, I’m adding elegant vines and flowers. I’ve had the most wonderful time working on this project, always looking forward to the opportunities when I could sit down and sew.

appliquick imageWe have recently started carrying Apliquick tools. I’ll admit that I tend to stick with methods I’ve used for years but I do find these products really do simplify the process, making it much easier to achieve success. We have an introduction to these tools under our “Tips and Lessons” tab.

The pattern for this quilt will be available during the Quest for free.  You get a free pattern from each participating shop during this 10-day period.

Maybe more than the design process, I’ve simply been enjoying the sewing. In my Quiltmaking by Hand book, I quote Rose Wider Lane from The Woman’s Day Book of American Needlework, 1964: “Then you thread a needle and settle comfortably in your chair. The needle runs easily back and forth through soft cloth while nerves relax and useless worries fade away.” So when life seems a little hectic, I’m just going to enjoy my stitching every chance I get.

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Out with the old and in with the new

When I first opened the Studio, I had the vision of a cozy quilt shop which would welcome my customers and not feel like a store even if that’s what it was. I never fail to feel that coziness each time I step inside. I suppose that’s why when the staff started telling me that we needed to do a bit of sprucing up, I put it off. As we often do at home, we don’t always notice when it’s time for a change.

With the busy fall season fast approaching, I finally realized, yes, it was time, especially with the long Labor Day weekend fast approaching. There is an awful lot of stuff which has to be moved around to paint a shop and unfortunately for the staff (and maybe lucky for me) I would not be around to help out. At close of business on Saturday, several of them moved fabric cases and bookshelves, removed quilts from walls, and so much more to get the shop ready.

shop staff cleaningThe first step was to remove the fabric which has covered the walls for 13 years.  Underneath, it was discovered that there was not one but two layers of wallpaper. Once that was all removed, painting the walls with a cheery white could begin.

shop redo 5

It’s only a start, but we love how it looks! Things have gone back in, been moved around, and quilts are being hung.  While we couldn’t do the whole shop at once (why, we’d have to close for DAYS to do that), it has started a bit of a “clean up and clean out” feeling among us all. Hmmm….now what should we do next?

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Fabric…It’s Not Just for Quilts

Jinny is quite busy with a top secret project this week (you’ll have to wait to hear what it is) so the staff is giving her a break and taking over the blog. Since there is no way we can impart quilting advice better than Jinny, we thought we’d show you something a little different—some alternate uses of Jinny’s fabulous fabric.

To be sure, nearly everyone who steps through the door of the Studio is here to buy something for their latest quilting project. Occasionally, a purchase is made for home decorating like curtains, napkins, tablecloths, and such. Large triangles from border prints make wonderful pillows. Why, we even have a border print running around the wall like a chair rail in our bathroom. One of the most fun “other” uses of Jinny’s fabric has to be when we see them in garments. Now we know you are thinking of those jackets we’ve all made which basically look like we’re wearing our quilts. While they are cute, what we’re talking about are garments which, at first glance, you would never think used quilting fabric.

Western shirtsLouanne G. from Taylor, Texas wrote to us a while back telling us how her husband loves Jinny’s border prints so Louanne uses them to make his Western shirts. Aussie quilter Esther A. used an Ambrosia fabric to make one of her fun Hawaiian-style shirts.

LorelaiSince fellow staffers spend many hours surrounded by fabric, they can come up with lots of unique ideas. Kristi has been making dresses for her granddaughter Lorelai since she was a baby. The dresses are precious but can’t outshine such a beautiful model.

Linda

When Linda’s grandson Andy was a baby, she made him this cute little jacket with Monochrome fabrics. Proving that her sewing skills were not just for the young, she made her very dapper dad (who’s in his 90’s), a shirt using the Pacific Rim line.

Dana
Fabrics used are from Corsica, Rajasthan, and Renaissance Garden collections

Some of the most amazing clothing, though, comes from our youngest staffer, Dana. Dana has a background in fashion design. A graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, she originally learned to sew by quilting with her grandmother. She does make quilts but her real passion is clothing.  She has found a unique way to mix and match some of Jinny’s different collections to showcase her unique style. She says, “Cotton can be a really fun fabric to work with.  Although it is not ideal for pieces that need to breathe like pants, it works great for skirts and children’s clothing. It is easy to sew and the range of color and print possibilities is endless.”

So next time you stop by the Studio or your local quilt shop, we hope you’ll look at the fabric in a different light.

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Gardens Gone Wild

I swore I wasn’t going to dwell on my vegetable garden this year, but I just can help it. It is going crazy!

My corn is way taller than an elephant’s eye (I’m 5’6”).

I can’t reach the sunflowers.

corn and sunflowerszucchiniThe tomatoes, which were slow to ripen, have now all decided to turn ripe at the same time. I have to beg people to take zucchinis and cucumbers.

We are enjoying my favorite tomato salad every night. (See my recipe below). And then just this morning I saw some red ripe tomatoes way inside the plant. When I reached for the first one, I realized it wasn’t several but just a single gigantic one. It weighs 2.68 pounds! While I realize that is not the world’s largest tomato, I think it is pretty big and I wasn’t trying to grow a large tomato.

Jinny and tomato

I have used my Cuisinart so much that it died on me this morning while I was in the middle of making 10 quarts of tomato sauce.

Let’s get back to my sunflowers for a moment.

sunflower comboNotice in this close-up that the seeds form a pattern of two sets of spirals going in opposite directions. If you count the two sets and divide one number by the other, you will have either .618 or 1.618…….the golden ratio!  Also if you count the number of petals on a sunflower; it will almost always be one of the Fibonacci numbers.

Jinny’s Caprese Salad

salad

Slice as many tomatoes as you need and place a piece of fresh mozzarella cheese on top of each one. (Buffalo mozzarella is the best, if you can find it.) At this point, most recipes call for putting a basil leaf on each tomato slice and drizzling with olive oil. We like it better with some fresh pesto on top of the mozzarella. I make a larger batch than I need and keep the rest in the refrigerator for use the next time. It keeps well for at least a week.

Pesto for Caprese Salad

Two cups fresh basil leaves

Two cloves of garlic

¼ cup pine nuts, walnuts or pecans

About ¼ cup olive oil

Dash of salt

Pepper to taste

Chop nuts, garlic and basil in a food processor, while the processor is running add olive oil in a slow drizzle until pesto forms a soft paste.

Happy eating!

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Stop By If You Are in the Neighborhood

waitchie1-1Four hours north of Melbourne, Australia, heading towards the outback, lies the farming town of Swan Hill. Drive another half hour or more along a small road and in the middle of nowhere you will come to an old church which now serves as the patchwork shop “Miss Sampson’s Drapery”.

The church and a train crossing are basically all that is left of the town of Waitchie. But if you are in the vicinity, be sure to stop by this charming shop. I love the message about shop hours on the website.  http://www.misssampsonsdrapery.com.au

Shop Hours :
Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. unless we are at a show so check the calendar and/or ring before coming!
If I’m home on Saturdays, I’m more than happy to open up as long as I know you’re coming! The same arrangement for Sundays.
We welcome very small, small and large groups for coffee and cake on their first visit, but please let me know in time so I can bake!!

Miss Sampson's

The proprietor, Sue Bennett, has organized many of my teaching trips to Australia and we have become good friends over the years. Sue and her husband Malcolm and a few dogs and other animals live just down the road from the shop and always welcome visitors. If you are in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by.

canola field

Last night Sue sent me this photo of the vista she is seeing right now out her back door. Can you guess what it is? I use it for cooking almost every day but never saw it growing.

canola colors

Sue, here are the colors. Now I’m waiting for the canola quilt!

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Shop Hop Fun!

Every year, along with nine others shops in the area, we hold a shop hop known as Quilter’s Quest. Held each November, the planning starts months earlier. At one of our meetings this spring, we discussed another type of shop hop held during the summer known as the Row by Row Experience. Started in upstate New York just four years ago, participation is spreading across the country and we all decided to join in. We didn’t know what to expect but we have all been thrilled with the fun which has ensued.

We often get quilters from all over but this summer the quilters who have stopped by have been telling us of shops they have visited across the country and it seems that my staff, too, has caught the Row by Row bug. Here, then, are some of the places they have visited and the experiences they’ve had.

That's Sew Debbie! in Groton, Connecticut
That’s Sew Debbie! in Groton, Connecticut

Nancy accompanied her husband on a business trip to Groton, Connecticut. Visiting “That’s Sew Debbie!” she was warmly greeted by Alberta H. and delighted to find that the Row by Row patterns were on a table covered with one of my palette fabrics. She was then introduced to one of the instructors, Charlie M. Charlie is currently working on his second Moon Glow quilt (wow!) and is a great “collector” of my fabrics. I love the quilt he’s holding in the picture here and I recognize almost all of those fabrics, Charlie.

Shops in the Pennsylvania area
Shops in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area

Diane went to seven shops in two days while visiting Lancaster County, PA. Even though she has visited the area often, she discovered quilt shops there she never knew existed. One store looked so tiny from the front she normally wouldn’t have bothered to stop but upon entering was thrilled to discover it just went on and on, filled with wonderful fabric. Now it will be a regular stop on her visits there.

Kristi regularly travels between here and Greensboro, NC, and just last week decided to break up the driving with five stops at participating shops. She hadn’t been to some of the shops in years and really enjoyed seeing all the new and different fabrics they held.

Kristi with Joanne Jones, the shop owner
Kristi at Ye Olde Forest, with Joanne Jones, the shop owner

Over the weekend, one of our staff, Sharon, while visiting family in Tacoma, Washington, stopped by Calico Threads. Here she is standing with Sandy Pickering and Donna Denman who opened the shop 2 years ago.  Having lived in Tacoma in her high school years, Sharon recognized the bridge in the store’s pattern – the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Sharon with Sandy Pickering and Donna Denman of Calico Threads in Tacoma, Washington
Sharon with Sandy Pickering and Donna Denman of Calico Threads in Tacoma, Washington

Barb stopped in at “Running Stitches” in Kent, Washington to pick-up a Row by Row pattern. She had a lovely chat with the staff and found a few fat quarters that had to come home with her (“As if I didn’t already have enough” she said). On her way out, she saw a gentleman on an adult tricycle with a basket mounted between the rear wheels. In that basket ? You guessed it, his sewing machine safely buttoned down inside its case. Too bad you didn’t get a picture of that, Barb.

As my staff visited other shops they asked themselves why they don’t do this more. Every shop carries different fabrics and has a different “feel” to it to inspire and spark your creativity. Row By Row continues through September 2nd. After that, why don’t you consider joining us in November for our Quilter’s Quest?

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The Best Birthday Gift a Teacher Could Receive

!_MAX7115For three years in a row I taught classes in Ukraine. The students were so diligent and were like sponges for the information I had to give them. The best part was that I was teaching them design ideas and not a specific project.

Recently I celebrated my birthday and two of my Ukranian students, Lena Koroleva and Miri Tsoi gathered together several of their quilts and took these wonderful photographs and sent then to me along with birthday wishes. I remember with joy each of the classes I taught in Ukraine and it makes me so proud to see that they have taken the design ideas and turned them into their own quilts.

It is also wonderful to see that they are passing those skills on. A few days earlier, Lena also sent me photographs of students in classes they are teaching. This was the message she attached with the photos:photo 2

“Ukraine is experiencing hard times, but people rallied around our common disaster, all helping each other, to help the army and refugees from areas captured. In occupied by terrorists city of Donetsk live almost all my relatives (Donetsk is a city in which I was born and lived for more than 30 years). I am very worried about them.

Yesterday I and Miri Tsoi organized for refugee children from the Donetsk region free master classes on patchwork.”photo 1

With all the strife going on in that country right now it is great to see that Patchwork is still going on and brings some measure of joy to the people.

!_MAX7133

 

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Out of Virginia and Into Africa

Visit the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
Visit the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Many of you may not know that in the early years of our married life my husband, John, and I spent several years living outside the United States. First it was Sarawak (a part of the Federation of Malaysia) on the island of Borneo, then Colombia in South America, next Nepal and finally India.

it-africa-022015 copyWhen we left India to return back to the U.S., we decided to take a side trip to Kenya to see some of the game reserves and visit that beautiful country. By then we had three children, ages 8, 6 and 2. This was in 1972 and there were not a lot of restrictions when traveling to the game parks.  Back then we rented a Volkswagen Beetle, loaded it with our family of five, and toured the game parks on our own. We saw incredible wildlife, were chased by a rogue elephant, stayed in humble accommodations, and had quite some adventures.

Kiss a giraffe or (not)!
Kiss a giraffe (or not!)

I’m so excited that I will return to Kenya in February for the first time since 1972. I will be going on another Sew Many Places Adventure with Jim West. This time there will be luxury accommodations along with trips to the parks very well supervised by an expert guide for every four-person safari vehicle. In addition to all the wildlife we will see, other highlights of the trip  include a visit to the Kazuri Bead factory, Karen Blixen’s home from Out of Africa fame, an elephant orphanage, a Samburu village and a giraffe sanctuary. It will be fun to revisit my first trip and share new experiences with people on the tour.

One of my favorite YouTube videos is this one. Watch the whole thing…..it is pretty amazing and has a surprise (and happy) ending. We may not quite experience this kind of sight……but you never know.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM

The Safari Expedition takes you to the heart of a game reserve
The Safari Expedition takes you to the heart of a game reserve

There are still a few places left on the expedition. Jim West always does a wonderful job with his tours and I feel comfortable knowing I am safe with everything is taken care of from start to finish. I hope some of you will be inspired to join me and Jim on this once in a lifetime experience (fortunately for me, I get two chances.)

Explore the African plains
Explore the African plains

Thank you to Jim West for allowing us to use his beautiful photographs.