October was a whirlwind trip for me. With trips to Oregon, Nepal and then Houston, I was home the equivalent of a week and ended the month with my son Sean and me handing out Halloween candy to more that 1,000 children who annually come for a big Halloween party in the Village Green where our shop is located.
We worked hard to finish our preparations for our annual Shop Hop, Quilters’ Quest, which starts today! I finished hand quilting the inside of the quilt and a portion of the borders and will complete it after Quest. If you are in the area, please stop by and receive a free pattern for our quilt, sign up for prizes, see our demos, get some of our shop hop fabric and so much more!
I am just back from an awesome trip to Nepal with Sew Many Places and, as this blog is published, I am heading off to Houston for Quilt Market (and still jet-lagged). Yes, it can at times be quite tiring but the best part of my job is the wonderful people I meet along the way. I don’t have time to write much today but I just wanted to tell you a quick story about one of the ladies on my Nepal trip. I promise that next week I’ll tell you more about Nepal and, also, Houston.
I met Barbara Suess several years ago. Barbara is an expert on Japanese Temari. Temari is an ancient Japanese folk craft which came from the desire to entertain children with an embroidered toy thread ball. I have had Barbara to the Studio to teach and have carried her books. The designs are beautiful!
Well, Barbara was on the trip to Nepal and brought along a bag of Temari balls she and some of her students had made. Barbara was graciously giving these balls away. One day, we were at a cooperative where local woman worked on crafts for sale (more on this next week) and Barbara gave her one of the Temari balls. The woman put it in her hair and proudly wore it for the day.
Despite language and cultural differences, it was special to see these two women, who love to create things of beauty by hand, share this moment.
I’m having a great time in Nepal on the tour with Sew Many Places. Several of the people on the tour have traveled with me previously and I’ve also made many new friends.
I arrived early to Nepal with two quilting friends to get in a little additional sightseeing, the highlight of which was time spent with the elephants. (My thanks to Sandi Goldman for many of these pictures.)
Our tour group gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city.
The sadness for me is seeing the ever-present effect of last year’s earthquake with the total destruction of some structures and the shoring up of old historic landmarks.
But, of course, there are so many wonderful sights to see including the Nepali children who are always ready with a smile.
And, since this is a quilters’ tour, there is always time for a lesson or two.
I’m excited to announce my next trip with Sew Many Places. A year from now I will be traveling with them to Guatemala. I have never been to this country but have heard and read so many wonderful things about it.
The summer seems to have flown by. It is hard to believe that the regular baseball season is over, school has been in session for a month, that there is not much left in the vegetable garden, that our shop hop starts in less than a month, that Fall Quilt Market is in three weeks and that I leave in two days for two weeks in Nepal…Yikes!
Ok, I’ll take a big breath and give a few words of wisdom before I sign off and start packing. I have talked all summer about our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest, and I have shared with you the progress as I have worked on the quilt for our shop this year.
When I finished the top a month ago I really wanted it quilted. Since I pieced it all by hand (while watching baseball games all summer) I wanted it quilted by hand as well. I am amazed at how fast the quilting is going. So far I have only been quilting on it for three and a half weeks but I already have two thirds of it completed. But I guess if you are a little diligent and do some each day it gets done! I work on it an hour in the morning when I first get up, an hour during the evening news and three or more hours during the baseball game. Since I have a lot of travel this month, I won’t get it completely finished before the shop hop but I’ll come close.
I want to share with you two of my favorite tools when quilting by hand. The first is TJ’s Quick Quilter Spoon. I have been using this for years. It helps me get even stitches and protects my fingers. The second tool is some long-nosed pliers. While quilting, I usually get five or six stitches on my needle at a time. I’m getting a little arthritis in my fingers and sometimes it is hard to pull the needle through. A pair of needle nosed pliers does the trick! I just keep it near me on the top of the quilt and use it to pull out the needle. It saves the fingers and makes the quilting go quicker since I can stack more stitches on the needle each time.
We just had our latest shop hop meeting a few days ago. All of the shop owners shared their quilts. What a spectacular array! When you participate in the Quest, you can pick up a free pattern at each shop for their quilt. That’s a total of 10 FREE patterns! I am at the Studio every day of the Quest to greet you and hand out our patterns. I hope to see you then!
This year Quilters’ Quest will take place November 4th through November 13th.
Participating stores will be open Monday-Saturday 9:30am-6:00pm and Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm. Visit www.quiltersquest.org for details.
Each year 10 shops from Virginia and Maryland join together during a ten day period in early November for our annual Quilters’ Quest shop hop. We plan a color scheme and each shop makes a quilt with those colors. As participants in the Quest go to each shop they can pick up a free pattern for that shop’s quilt.
Exactly two months ago I began hand-stitching Labyrinth, our Jinny Beyer Studio quilt for this year’s shop hop. I did all the sewing while watching the Washington Nationals baseball games on TV.
Along the way I have shown you bits and pieces of the quilt blocks. Now that the top is finished I want to share it with you. This year I chose a pattern that wasn’t as difficult as the ones from the past two years. Labyrinth has only straight-line sewing and no set-in seams. Even though I pieced it by hand, it is very easy to machine piece as well.
Here is a chart of the colors all the shops are working with. For Labyrinth I decided to leave out the oranges and teals and just use the blues, reds, purples and magentas.
We are also making a second quilt with only 16 blocks instead of 36. In this quilt we have left out the blues and teals and added the oranges. When it is finished we will show you the comparison. It will be fun for all of us to see the difference that one change of color will make.
It is not too late to make plans to join us for the Quest. All of the shops are planning two-day excursions by bus. Most shops still have openings. We get a lot of people from out of the area participating and hope you will too!
I just couldn’t resist the Zipster pouches that are in our web special this week. In case you didn’t notice, they shade from top to bottom. And as you may have heard, I have this thing for shading. As soon as I saw them I just had to make some shaded bundles to go with them.
People have asked what the secret is for shading colors. It is not difficult. You can shade light to dark within a color and then link it to another color through very dark or black. You can shade through medium values into another color, or you can shade lighter and go through lights.
When I go on a tour with people I can’t help myself sometimes when we do a group photo. People are never asked to wear anything special, but for the photo I like to shade everyone together according to what they have on that day.
This is a photo that was taken in front of Amber Palace in India on a trip with Sew Many Places. It is a perfect example of my shading addiction. Notice the five women in the lower right. Within just those five, the colors go from light to dark and from bright orange to deep burgundy. The woman in the center is what I call the “transition” color because her shirt is a mixture of slightly orange and slightly pink…sort of watermelon.
The man in the second row down with the turban is the transition between the gold and the coral shirts. The four of us in the lower left probably should have been reversed so that the lime green shirt was next to the greenish gold shirt. But how much rearranging could I expect my fellow travelers to put up with?
Fortunately, this shading addiction led to my creating the 150 shaded fabrics in my Palette Collection along with the Portable Palette.
I will be taking another trip with Sew Many Places this October to Nepal. There are still a few spaces left. It is a colorful country and I’m looking forward to going once again. It’s not too late for you to sign up and join me for this fabulous tour.
It is hard to believe it is almost the middle of August. I stay close to home this time of year to tend the garden, harvest the produce and catch up on projects.
Always during this time I am designing and making our quilt for the annual shop hop in our area, “Quilter’s Quest”. Each of the 10 shops designs a quilt based on fabric swatches that are collected during the Quest. Participants can pick up the free patterns at each of the stores.
I’m piecing our quilt by hand, although it is very conducive to machine piecing as all of the seams are straight lines with no set-in parts. I get most of my work done while watching the Washington Nationals baseball games. I finally finished all the blocks and am giving you a sneak preview here. I’ll have the top finished soon.
We had our shop hop meeting at the Studio this week and we are gearing up for this special event. In case you want to leave the driving to us, all shops still have space available on their buses including two buses from the Studio.
The Quest newsletter goes out the middle of each month from now through November. Be sure to sign up for it for the latest information and to get the free patterns for our Quest Mystery Quilt. Here are the first two blocks.
The patterns are only available through the newsletter. Shops have fabric kits for the fabrics they are using in their version of the mystery quilt. You can sign up for the Quest newsletter here.
The vegetable garden is consuming quite a bit of my time. I have never had so many cucumbers. I am constantly begging people to take some. I take them to the shop and when a customer comes in I tell them “Congratulations! You have just won a door prize.” I was not able to get to the garden last Friday and, by skipping just that one day, some of the cucumbers and zucchini got out of hand. I loaded up bags and took them as well as tomatoes and basil to the shop.
My favorite cucumber is a Japanese variety called Palace King. No matter how large they get, they still stay crispy and taste fantastic. The one in the photo is by far the biggest I have had. It measured 23”! The zucchini is 22”.
So, what do you do with all of that zucchini? One of my employees took one home and made delicious zucchini bread. I asked for the recipe. I hardly ever do a recipe exactly how it is given so I altered it a bit. I am on a self-imposed low cholesterol diet. I would rather regulate my cholesterol with diet instead of pills. So for this recipe I used 6 egg whites instead of 3 whole eggs. I used a half cup less sugar (and substituted brown sugar for the white). I thought cranberries would be a nice addition. I always like to sprinkle lemon/sugar zest on the top of the batter before baking so I included that as well. I served this at the Quest meeting the other day and everyone wanted the recipe, so I am giving it here for you as well.
No Cholesterol, Low Fat Zucchini Bread
Makes 2 loaves
Butter and flour for preparing baking pans
3 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3½ cups grated zucchini (you can use as little as 2 cups and as much as 4)
6 egg whites (After doing a price comparison on eggs vs. egg whites in a carton, I found that for $2.99 I could get a dozen eggs. For the same amount of egg whites I could get from that dozen it was more than twice the price. So I’d rather discard the yolks or save and microwave them to add to the dog food.)
½ cup applesauce
½ cup vegetable oil
1 ¾ cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 ½ cups dried cranberries
3 Tablespoons Smart Balance (similar to margarine)
3 Tablespoons sugar
grated rind of 1 large lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and lightly flour two 8”x4” loaf pans.
1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir gently to combine.
2. Shred zucchini, lightly packing it down as you measure it.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat egg whites, applesauce, oil, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix very well. (You don’t want to over beat quick breads after the soda and baking powder are added, but since this is just the liquid part, and especially with the egg whites I think it helped to add air to the batter.)
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients (about ⅓ at a time) mixing as you go – then beat well to fully combine.
5. With a rubber scraper or wooden spoon, stir the shredded zucchini, cranberries and nuts into the batter and mix well.
6. Pour half of the batter into each prepared pan.
7. Melt the Smart Balance and brush on the top of each loaf.
8. Mix the sugar and grated lemon rind together and sprinkle on top of each loaf.
9. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. (The bake time will vary depending on how much shredded zucchini you add to the batter.)
Here are just a few words as I run off to visit my grandchildren.
With July now in full swing, summer has truly begun. I can’t help but feel that lazy, laid back feeling just a bit by enjoying some simple summer fun.
I recently returned from California where I visited the offices of RJR Fabrics, the company which has manufactured my fabrics for many years. I took the opportunity to combine business with pleasure.
It is no secret I am a big Washington Nationals baseball fan. Demi, head of marketing for RJR, took me to the Dodgers/Nats game.
Summer fun also involves the simple pleasures of watching all the wildlife out the window. I recently wrote about a groundhog I found up one of our trees. Happiness is sewing at my kitchen table and watching the goldfinches at the bird feeder…
…and chuckling while watching the squirrels try to get the goldfinches’ food.
With summer well upon us (at least here in the northern hemisphere), I hope you too take the opportunity for a little summer fun.
I just returned from Spring Quilt Market which was held in Salt Lake City, Utah this past week. It is always fun to meet up with friends I have made over the years and some of our favorite vendors. It is refreshing to see the influx of young people who have entered the business and to see some of their innovative designs and ideas.
I came back excited about several people I met for the first time, and with new products and “gadgets” that we will share with you in the coming months.
Do you have a large stash of fabric, some of which you now know you will never use? Well, one of the people I met has the perfect solution. She is Phyllis Hause and she has a business called Aunt Philly’s Toothbrush rugs. The rugs are made from strips of fabric and have the appearance of a braided rug. The advantage of her technique is that you do not create braids that then have to be sewn together. You just build the rug, sort of like crocheting, but different.
Phyllis has had her business for more than 30 years and learned how to make the rugs from her grandmother when she was a child. I had such a delightful time talking to her and she has agreed to come to our shop this fall and teach some classes. We don’t have the dates or specifics yet, but if it is something you think you might be interested in, contact us and we will let you know as soon as we have the details.
I always enjoy seeing Kathleen Thompson from Quilters Dream Batting…our favorite batting!
RJR’s booth was delightful, with a large heart made for shelves with fabric covered books. They showcased my new Marrakesh quilt.
It is always fun to stop and have a chat with longtime friend Alex Anderson.
Now that I’m back I have to get busy and pass some of what I found on to you.
I am so excited to announce that I will be going to Nepal on a tour with Sew Many Places October 14-22 this year.
We all gain inspiration for our work in a lot of different ways. I definitely know that the two years I lived in Nepal from 1968-1970 had a direct impact on the way I design fabrics and make quilts. October is the perfect month to visit and I can hardly wait to return to this incredible country with its gentle people who always have a ready smile.
Officially the highest country on earth, Nepal is as rich in culture as it is in geography. From vibrant, cosmopolitan cities to tranquil temples, stunning landscapes to ancient architecture, Nepal has it all. It is consistently named as one of the top places to visit in your lifetime for the amazing cultural discoveries, unbelievable scenery, delicious food and some of the friendliest people on the planet.
We will be participating in hands-on workshops and see lots of craft demonstrations. As part of the trip, for those who want to participate, we also be working on a hand pieced project. If you have never hand pieced, don’t worry. I will help. On one of our trips I even taught Jim West, the founder of Sew Many Places, how to sew. He did great!
I hope you can join me on this amazing journey. If so, be ready to be inspired by the design all around, whether it is in weavings, rugs, temples, ornately carved window frames, awe-inspiring landscape and so much more.