Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A welcome break from the drudgery

So I've been working on my customer quilt which is taking quite some time. It's also a bit monotonous, but that's ok; I try to work on it for an hour each evening after work if I'm not too worn out from the workday. That being said...

I had a bit of a meltdown a couple of weeks ago. Not epic, but still a meltdown. Between work and home, things started snowballing and it got to me. Katrina had asked me to go to Wichita with her to take Mabel, her cute, new Mazda Miata, to see our friend Deb. As luck would have it, the weekend also coincided with the Central Kansas quilt shop hop. I said no; too many obligations. But as the week wore on and I continued to sink into my funk, the hubster said I had to go.

So at the butt crack of dawn two weeks ago this past Friday, Katrina picked me up and we headed northwest with the top down, wind in our hair, and bugs up our noses. Katrina's Miata is much more comfortable than I thought it would be (Miata travel tip: a pillow helps)! We stopped at every state line to take our photo in front of the signs and texted them to Deb to let her know where we were. We met Deb and her mother-in-law at Needle in a Haystack in Severy, KS, and the good vibes started flowing. I had made a deal with myself to only buy fabrics for borders and backings, but left a little wiggle room for the oh-I-must-have-that fabric!

Severy, Kansas is in the middle of N.O.W.H.E.R.E., so imagine our surprise to learn there were TWO quilt shops less than 2 miles from each other in Severy! Once we left the second shop, we stopped at the Beaumont Hotel for a late lunch. We drove on to Deb's home in Wichita and unpacked. By the time we were done, Deb's husband, Neil, brought dinner home from Pig In, Pig Out and then shoved us out the door to get to the 3 shops in Wichita before they closed for the evening.

Wichita has at least 3 wonderful shops--there are additional shops that did not participate in the hop, but the ones that did participate were great: Henfeathers, Picket Fence Quilt Company (no website, but they do have a Facebook page), and Material Girls.

Saturday morning we woke early because Deb said we had to be on the road by 8:00 a.m. to hit all of the shops in the hinterlands. I think we covered 500 miles. Deb had the plan, and I was the naviguesser. Our first stop was Cottonwood Quilts in Hutchinson, then we were off to Alden to Prairie Flower Crafts. Now, here's the kicker--Alden is a town of 148. The main drag is one block long; no traffic signal. The quilt shop is the largest business in the one-block "downtown" area. While I was waiting for Deb and Katrina to complete their purchases, I noticed a diner across the street. I love diners. But being gluten-free, I am ever mindful of what may lurk in my food. I asked the cashier if the food was good, and she said she liked it and showed us a menu from the place. I got so excited when I read that they had GF bread and buns! Katrina said I was giddy--well, let's face it; you're in the middle of rural Kansas in a one-horse town and their only restaurant serves GF bread? Sure, I'll be giddy!

The diner, Reece's, was FABULOUS. Lovely people; great food. It's a bakery, too (not GF). They have a Facebook page. If you're ever driving through Alden, EAT THERE.

After lunch, we set off to McPherson to visit Stitches Quilt Shop, then north to Salina to hit Quilting Bee. Back south to Kessler Kreations in Hillsboro, then to Newton to our last stop, Charlotte's Sew Natural. We pulled back into Deb's driveway about 7:00 p.m. and had another lovely dinner.

Sunday morning, Katrina and I loaded up the trunk of the Miata:

She wanted to stop at an antique shop we had passed on our way into Wichita Friday afternoon, but it wasn't open. I don't know where she would have put anything if she saw something she wanted to buy.

We rolled into my driveway around 8:00 p.m. that evening. A fast trip, but it was wonderful. I came home with 3 patterns and 30 yards of fabric!

I'm going to give you my ranking of the quilt shops we visited:
  1. Charlotte's Sew Natural - best fabric selection out of the 11 shops; great employees
  2. Material Girls - best shop hop quilt; fabulous fabrics; great employees
  3. Hen Feathers - great fabrics; lovely peeps, but a bit crowded on Friday night
  4. Needle in a Haystack - for a shop in the middle of nowhere, they were terrific! Very nice people and good fabric selection.
  5. Stitches Quilt Shop - great selection, prettiest bathroom!
  6. Quilting Bee - great selection of repros, nice people
  7. Picket Fence - probably the smallest of the Wichita shops we visited, but a nice variety and, honestly, very nice people since it was probably after closing time when we left, and there were still at least 15 customers in the shop
  8. Cottonwood Quilts - good selection of fabric, but the people weren't as friendly; perhaps they had not had enough coffee by the time we arrived
  9. Itchin' to Stitch - the people were lovely, but the fabric selection was ok. I purchased two pieces of fabric from a line that was at least 8 years old and only one of those was on sale. I bought them because I made a Quiltsmart lone star quilt several years ago when we had our shop and forgot to grab some fabric for a border; now I have it.
  10. Kessler Kreations - ho hum fabrics; half of the store is antiques. I think the peeps there were ready to call it a day. The chili they had cooking smelled good.
  11. Prairie Flower Crafts - out in the middle of nowhere (like Severy). One of the largest shops we visited, but a lot of V.I.P. and really OLD stuff. The place consists of 3 old "Main Street" storefronts and one of them was nothing but clearance -- fabrics, books and patterns. I couldn't believe some of the books--harking back to the 60's and 70's. I could have spent the rest of the day combing through the selection, but we had a mission to accomplish.
I will be happy to return to the top 7 shops on my list.

One more comment about the shops: In each one I went to their notions section to look for a specific pair of scissors. Only one shop had them--the last--and by that time I had busted my budget and didn't buy them. Honestly, I was a bit surprised at how few notions a lot of the shops had, but that also means they had more fabric! I barely glanced at books and patterns, although I picked up 3 patterns.

At our last stop, I commented that each of the towns we visited looked exactly the same--old school small-town downtown sections. Nothing wrong with that--for the most part they were very charming. It was so nice to see that all of the downtown areas seemed to be thriving.

So now I'm back to the regular day-to-day stuff and have been steadily working on the customer quilt. I have to complete it by the end of October and hope to have it completed by this weekend--you'll probably hear a big WOOHOO when it's done.

Go quilt!