Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Subway Series

A few weeks ago, my friend Gail posted a link on Facebook to the quilt show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The special exhibition, entitled Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts features over 650 red and white quilts - more on that in a minute. As it goes, one thing led to another, and we hopped on a train from Syracuse Friday to see the show.

We arrived mid day in mid-town Manhattan, and dropped our bags at the hotel in Times Square, fully prepared to see the quilt show. But first, we simply had to do some shopping.

Purl SoHo is a special treat for quilters and crafters who love to play with fabric and fibers from around the globe. The atmosphere is bright, sunny, and friendly - and that's just the fabric and yarns! Staffed with cheerful, helpful people who clearly enjoy what they are doing, this shop, is nothing short of amazing.

Fresh, irresistable colors and comfortable spaces make you forget the bustling urban setting just outside the front window.

Even though it was getting toward dinner time, we made one more stop to shop for fabric (not counting that side visit to Lush). 

The City Quilter, a well-deserved Quilt Sampler featured shop in New York City's Chelsea district, was a short trip from Purl SoHo. Recently expanded, the spacious store rivals those in a more suburban setting. The shopping fare incorporates many favorites: Batiks, bright, contemporary prints, Valdani embroidery threads, books, and New York City-themed fabric and notions. Wow! Sorry, I didn't take any pictures - I was too busy shopping! You'll just have to go and see it for yourself.

On Saturday, after the Red and White Quilt show, we headed to Pins and Needles on the upper East Side of Manhattan. I must admit this new shop was my favorite of the three shops we visited!
Owner Rachel Low has transformed an upper floor, narrow space into a sewer's haven with remarkable flair and decorating savvy. Surprisingly, the shop includes, a bright sunny classroom, complete with window seats for stitching, cozy space to thumb through a pattern book or two, and lots of luscious fabrics to choose from. 

Making use of every bit of real estate and natural light, office space is separated from the main store by a sheer drape. 
Vintage buttons tastefully decorate the tiny powder room. The entire shop feels much bigger than it is! Well done!

Before heading to Pins and Needles, our main destination for the trip was the incredible display of Red and White quilts at the Park Avenue Armory. Some 650 vintage quilts made only from red and white fabric were displayed in circular towers, some hanging at eye-level, many hanging one, two, or three quilt-lengths above. They were displayed back-to-back, draped over poles and suspended in a towering cylinder, similar to a farm silo. Show visitors could view the quilts around the outside of the cylinder, then walk into the center to see the quilts from the 'inside.'

Words and photographs do not even come close to describe the feeling invoked by the presence of all these amazing quilts. Many of them collected at garage sales for $5 or $10. Many whose maker is now unknown. This entire, remarkable collection is the product of one individual, Joanna Semel Rose, whose husband granted her 80th birthday wish to display the quilts as a gift to New York City. Many, many happy returns, Joanna!

The view from the center of one of the quilt 'cylinders,' looking out.

Gail and I said farewell to the City on Sunday morning. During our stay, we gabbed, laughed, walked until our feet ached, ate wonderful food, saw amazing displays of quilts, and supported the New York City quilt shop economy until our arms couldn't carry another thing!
Until next time!

Friday, March 18, 2011

One Stray Thread

That one stray thread can make you crazy!

You've seen it. Traveling through the quilt show. Marveling at the beautiful workmanship on all the quilts. Log cabin blocks. Baltimore albums. Patchwork. Applique. You notice the colors, the quilting, the shapes.

Then you see it. That dang stray piece of thread. It blends in. . . almost. It matches the quilt. . . sort of. Noticeable, distracting, annoying. Try to look away, but it draws you in. One stray thread.

So remove it. Wait! Hold on! Quilt show rules: "Don't touch the quilts! Hands off! Gloved hands only."

My friend Georgia noticed stuff like that stray thread all the time. She made sure to get a pair of gloves at the quilt show entrance so she could take control of that one stay thread. She knew, it was bound to happen, and she'd be ready!

My friend Georgia passed away about a week ago. She was a quilter. And a fighter. A gem. And a stickler for detail.

I can't wait to go to my next quilt show. I'll be looking for that one stray thread on the beautiful quilts hanging there. And I will remember Georgia.

Will you look for a stray thread, too? Whose memory will it bring back? Who is your one stray thread?

(Thanks Dolly, for sharing this story about Georgia, so I can think of her . . . and smile.)

Warm wishes,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Conure Therapy

When the fabric scrap bucket gets within reach of the bird cage, feathered friends get curious.
What do they say? One quilter's trash, is another parrot's treasure.

In stitches,