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The Magic of Shading

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.


Jinny Shading



Zipsters with Fabrics for Blog


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.


INDIA shaded phot sm


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.


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.





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The Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer

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.


2016 Quilters' Quest Colors
2016 Quilters’ Quest Colors


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.


Partial Blocks


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.


Quest Mystery 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.


BIG Veggies


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.

Happy summer!


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.)

Remove from the pans and cool on wire racks.

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Summer Fun


Summer Fun1
These little fans are so handy!


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.


Summer Fun2


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 Fun3
Selfie with Demi!!!


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…


Summer Fun4


…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.

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Spring Quilt Market 2016

RJR BoothI 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.

Jinny and Phyllis

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!

Jinny and Quilters DreamRJR’s booth was delightful, with a large heart made for shelves with fabric covered books. They showcased my new Marrakesh quilt.

Jinny at RJR BoothIt is always fun to stop and have a chat with longtime friend Alex Anderson.

Alex and Jinny 2016Now that I’m back I have to get busy and pass some of what I found on to you.

Happy Quilting!


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Travel with Me to Nepal

nepal-kathmanduI 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.

nepal_claypotsOfficially 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.

nepal_bhaktapurWe 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!

nepal-khokanaI 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.

As the Nepalis say for either hello or good-bye,



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New York City in Six Hours…a 17 hour marathon!

NY1My friends, Sue and Malcolm Bennett, from Australia, visited us here in Virginia for a few days. Sue is a quilter and has a shop in Waitchie, Victoria. You might remember her from a previous blog post

When I asked what they would like to do, Sue said seeing New York City was on her bucket list. Malcolm had no interest.

So Sue and I decided to take a “girls’ day” and just go. I asked her what she wanted to see. She said she just wanted to see the city, but Central Park, Times Square, the Empire State Building, Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty…..would all be good. I added that you can’t go to New York without eating at a typical New York deli and that we had to wander through the garment district.

For years I made monthly trips to New York City to work with the artists in the design house where my fabrics were created. I would take the train to the city, work all day and then take the train back home again. The studio was only two blocks from Penn Station so I rarely ventured very far beyond mid-town. But I thought “why not?”

So we plotted, spent some time on the internet searching and made a plan of action.

We left my house at 6 AM on Saturday morning and drove to Union Station in Washington DC. We parked at the station, got out and were greeted with the most spectacular sunrise. The vivid colors were reflected in the glass windows of a building adjacent to the station.


NY3Our train didn’t leave until 7:30 so we had a little time to get some coffee and something to eat. Promptly at 7:30, the train left the station with two excited women aboard. On the way to New York, Sue and I stitched triangles for my new pattern “Thousand Pyramids” (available soon, stay tuned).NY4When the train arrived, we both checked our Fitbits and determined that we already had about 1800 steps. Then we started our whirlwind tour:

11 AM: Arrival at Penn Station. We wound our way through the station and headed east on 33rd Street towards 5th Avenue towards the Empire State Building. When we got there, we couldn’t find the building and asked someone exactly where it was.  We were politely informed that we were standing right in front of it and to just look up. Better yet, the kind gentleman told us to go across the street and down to the corner and we would get the best view.

11:28 AM: We headed north on 5th Avenue towards 38th Street. We had determined that we would go down 38th and check out some of the amazing bead and trim shops along that street.

11:47 AM: Sue and Jinny in one of the amazing trim shops.


NY7 12:05 PM: We finished our tour of the “garment district” and headed north on 7th Avenue to Times Square. We arrived there at 12:15 and just hung out for a little while, watching all the activity.

NY1112:30 PM: We decided the oatmeal bars that we had for breakfast had long since left our systems and we were starving. We had read that Carnegie Deli was one of the best of the New York delis so we continued our walk up 7th Avenue towards 55th Street. When we reached Carnegie’s there was a huge line trailing around the block. I went to the front of the line and asked how long that person had been waiting and was told it had been more than an hour and that there was also a long line inside the restaurant. So we went to plan “B” and called Artie’s (also on the list of the five best delis in New York). They told us there was no waiting at the moment.

12:50 PM: By now we were starving and our legs were getting a little weary and the thought of walking the 27 blocks up to 82nd was a little daunting. We wanted to be sure to get there while they still had space. So we hailed a cab and took off for Artie’s.

NY101:05 PM: We arrived at Artie’s and Sue said she had never had a reuben sandwich. I told her she had to have one while we were there. The sandwiches arrived within 10 minutes and we both were astounded by the size. There must have been a pound of corned beef in each sandwich.


NY181:45 PM: We left Artie’s and walked east on 83rd Street towards Central Park. It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect. This area of the city is more tranquil than the hubbub in midtown.

2 PM: It was amazing to approach Central Park and see this large area that had been preserved. We entered the park just above The Lake and wandered south, enjoying the beauty around us. We passed the Strawberry Fields, saw horse drawn carriages and in the distance the skyscrapers of the city.

nyc  9 central park

2:30 PM: It was hard to leave the tranquility of the park, but we had to get to the southern end of Manhattan to NY14Ground Zero and a taxi would take a long time so we opted to tackle the subway. And, hey, if you are in New York, you gotta just try it. We made our way to the 72nd Street station, asked at information how to get there and received our $2.50 “senior pass” which was good for the rest of the day. On the subway, Sue, the gregarious one of our “duo” immediately got into a conversation with a couple who were heading in our direction. They got a big kick of the recounting of our marathon tour in progress. They gave us some pointers as they left us two stops before our own.

NY133:00 PM: All giddiness on our part stopped as we walked from the subway station toward the 9/11 Memorial. One could just feel the anguish, hope, determination. We first saw the Trade Center buildings that have been finished so far.

NY12We wound our way around construction barriers to the spot where the two towers had stood, those places now giant waterfalls in the footprint of the towers. The names of all the victims of the terrorist attacks that horrific day are engraved in bronze slabs around each of the fountains. Time stood still for us as each of us as we remembered where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. My quilt “Windows” was my response to the attacks. The piece in the very center of the quilt is for a friend who was in the plane that hit the Pentagon. A kind gentleman at one of the information booths looked up her name and showed us where we could find it. We both shed our tears not only for her but for all the victims and their families. To see so many names of people, going about their daily routines, who had fallen to terrorists within a short period of time, made an immense impression on us.NY164 PM: It was hard for us to leave the place of beauty that had been carved out of tragedy. Subdued, we walked away and came upon a group of policemen. We asked them for directions to Battery Park. They pointed us in the right direction and we headed towards the park where we would see the Statue of Liberty. When we got there we could see the Statue in the distance and were a bit worried about taking the time to ride a ferry to get closer. Our train was leaving central station at 6 PM and we weren’t sure how long it would take us to get back to Penn Station. So, with the wind still knocked from our sails from seeing the memorial, we enjoyed the park for a while then asked directions to the nearest subway and found our way back to Penn Station.

5:15 PM: we arrived at Penn Station and time enough to sit down for a brief drink and then get ready to board our train home.

final train photo6:00 PM: It took very little time for us to relax and fall asleep on the ride back to Washington…… sewing of triangles took place on the way home.

11:00 PM: 17 hours and just under 20,000 steps later, we arrived back home after a pretty incredible day.

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The Inspirations of Costa Rica

CR1What a treat it was to leave our three feet of snow and head off to beautiful, sunny Costa Rica. I’ve been back less than a week and am already suffering withdrawal.

CR2I traveled to Costa Rica to be one of the teachers in the first ever “Cocoon” run by Jim West and his company, Sew Many Places. The cocoon concept is to have four teachers, each doing one day workshops. The participants are broken into groups and take all four workshops, learning a new concept from each of the teachers.

It was great being able to reconnect with teachers I have known for more than thirty years, but haven’t seen recently. Pepper Cory, Kaye England and Judith Montano were all fantastic presenters and the students had nothing but praise for them.

Inspiration was all around!
Inspiration was all around!

I taught my diamonds class, Pepper did Sashiko, Kaye taught hand applique and Judith did silk ribbon embroidery. Lots of handwork which I love!

At the coffee plantation...the largest hydrangea I've ever seen!
At the coffee plantation…the largest hydrangea I’ve ever seen!

In addition to classes and lectures, we visited the Doka coffee plantation and the village of Sarchi which is famous for their beautifully decorated ox carts. There is lots in the country to love and to be inspired by. I just need time to implement some of those ideas! Stay tuned to see where they turn up in quilts and fabrics.

Creating a beautiful Ox Cart wheel



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Shop Hop Planning

snow 2 (1)We have had an amazingly warm November, December and January so far, but it looks like winter is finally going to catch up with us as weathermen are predicting a blizzard with up to two feet of snow this weekend. Many of you will be affected as well, so I hope you have a nice quilting project to keep you busy.

As it is the middle of winter, it is hard for many of you to imagine that we are already in the throws of planning for our two shop hop events this coming year. Row by Row has been a lot of fun and we have already signed up for 2016 and have designed our row. The theme this year is “Home Sweet Home.” Once we finish the row and send the image to the organizers, we will share it with you.

Row by Row 2016Many of you may be new to quilting and may not know what Row by Row is.  The event runs from June 21 through September 6. It is a very different shop hop with stores in all 50 states and parts of Canada taking part. Each shop designs a “row” quilt design that finishes 36” wide and up to 9” tall. All you have to do is go into one of the participating shops and collect a free pattern for that shop’s “row”. Then make a quilt with at least eight different rows from 2016 and be the first to bring it to one of the shops and win 25 fat quarters! People have planned their whole vacations to allow them a route that will take them to participating shops. We look forward to the event as it brings a lot of new faces from all over the US and Canada. Check it out and come see us this summer!

Quest logoJust this week we had the organizational meeting for our annual Quilters’ Quest shop hop. The ten participating shops (all in Maryland and Northern Virginia) meet once a month to plan the event. We have already started planning the shop hop fabric design, the Scavenger Hunt quilt and the Block of the Month quilt which will be free to Newsletter subscribers.

In addition to those projects, each year we plan a color scheme for the Quest. Each shop prepares a set of swatches made up of some of the colors and participants either buy the swatches or get them free with a purchase of a certain amount. The shops get together and trade so each one has a complete set (the same as what the participants will have). Then the fun begins. Each shop designs a quilt using the swatches and then writes a pattern for the design. The pattern is free to anyone coming into the shop during Quest. That is 10 quilt designs to choose from using the quest swatches.

Questers fun1

Questers fun2Many people enjoy the Quest by letting us do the driving and most shops already have the dates for their bus trips. We have many people from all over the US sign up for these buses, so we hope those of you from far away will want to join us for this great event. calliope Palette quilt final sm

Last year our quilt and free pattern was for Calliope. I was working on it when my granddaughter was visiting and she fell in love with it and asked if she could have it. How can I resist? I plan to baste it and put it in the frame so I have something to do during the upcoming blizzard. It has been a long time since I had a quilt in my frame and I am looking forward to getting started.

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Holiday Party Surprise Adventure

Holiday Party1 Every year, Jinny gathers the entire staff together for a holiday party early in January.  Sometimes we know what is going to happen and sometimes it is a big surprise.  A surprise is what we had this year.

In December, Jinny was invited to a holiday show by her friend, and potter, Laura Nichols. Laura invited various artists to set up a booth in her old house. It was there that Jinny met Foster Holcombe who had several pieces of his glass displayed. He was telling someone about the workshops he does and was explaining how he gets the different colors of glass, etc. It was then that Jinny started hatching her plan.

Holiday Party2Jinny told us a date, that we were going to brunch which would include our traditional white elephant swap, followed by an activity which required us to plan our wardrobe around only natural fiber clothing. I will admit that this caution immediately clued in one staffer but the rest were truly puzzled not just by what our activity would be but what to wear.  There are a lot of manmade fibers in women’s clothing.

Meeting at the Studio, we divided ourselves up into cars with only directions to our first stop which turned out to be the Old Angler’s Inn.

Holiday Party3The restaurant dates back to the 1860’s and is just across the street from the scenic C&O Canal. We all enjoyed our brunch and the white elephant swap was filled with some truly bizarre gifts.

Holiday Party4-1Holiday Party5-1After brunch, we were once again given directions with just the address of our destination.  We took back roads to our final stop, the Art of Fire studio in Laytonsville, Maryland.

Holiday Party19Foster and his wife Theda welcomed us into their barn and told us we would be taking a glassblowing workshop.

Holiday Party6

Holiday Party7-1

Holiday Party8We selected the color and style of ornament we wanted to make and went right to work either with Foster or Josh.  We were all fascinated.

Holiday Party9

Holiday Party11

Holiday Party20-1

Holiday Party10First, our instructor would reach into the furnace with a four-foot long hollow tube called a blowing iron.  It is 2400° in the “glory hole” and when the blowing iron is removed there is glowing molten glass on the end.

Holiday Party21

Holiday Party12The glass makes several trips in and out of the furnace and in between color is added, it is placed in molds, blown and shaped.

Holiday Party13

Holiday Party14

Holiday Party15Finally, the piece is cut from the iron and a hook made of molten glass is formed.

Holiday Party22It is immediately placed into the annealer which is a mere 1000° and where it will slowly cool overnight.

Holiday Party17We all had a fabulous time spending the day together and getting to experience the workings of a different kind of studio.   Thanks Jinny!


***As this blog was being published, our finished pieces arrived at the shop – aren’t they all so different?

Holiday Party18


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Chance Encounters

Jinny Quest 2015-4I have been talking for months about the annual shop hop in our area called “Quilters’ Quest”. There are 10 shops in Maryland and Northern Virginia who get together each year to plan this event. We have just finished the “Quest” and I want to let you all know how successful it was…so many people from across the country have come year after year and make it almost a pilgrimage.

I love seeing the familiar faces of those who have become friends over the years. I especially enjoy the pairs of mothers and daughters who do the Quest together. One mother/daughter combo participate in the Quest each year and the mother has especially caught my fancy.  I love the fact that they do this together and that the mother travels to this area to do the Quest with her daughter. I never see them at any other time but instantly remember them when they come through the door. This year when they came in I immediately gave the mom a hug and told her how nice it was to see her again. She said in her feisty way, “you can’t really remember me—if you can, tell me where I am from!”

“New Jersey” I gave right back at her, and we both had a good laugh.

The shop hop is the one time a year that I set aside time from teaching, designing, etc. to be at the shop every day.  It is such fun to see the amazing stories that emerge.

Three women and a gentleman came into the shop during the Quest. They did not know the shop hop was going on but were excited to be a part of the festivities.  I told them that anyone coming into the shop was eligible for our daily door prize so please enter. They had an interesting story.

Jinny Quest 2015-3It started with Jane Sparrell, a quilter, who traveled to Washington DC with her husband who was attending a conference. One evening of the conference they had dinner at a table with another woman attendee, Virginia, from Sacramento, California. During the course of the conversation, the two women discovered that they were both quilters and had an avid conversation about quilting. The next day, the non- attendee of the conference was on a tour of DC and met the acquaintance of another woman and her husband, Laurie and Rob, from Savage, Minnesota.   The two women soon discovered that THEY both were quilters.

Jinny Quest 2015-5The bottom line is that the three women, Jane, Virginia and Laurie, and the husband made the trek out to our shop. No sooner had they left than I noticed that Jane had left a bag behind. I called her cell phone and agreed to mail it to her.

Later that day, believe it or not, it was her name that I drew for our daily drawing prize winner! I called her yet again and said that we must be new best friends with my second call to her in a day.

Jinny Quest 2015-1Thank you to all of you who attended the Quest. I love the chance to meet and talk with so many of you. The Quest always reminds of how much I love being with quilters (as if I could ever forget)!