Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hey! Look Over There... More Quilters!

Good morning.

After our wonderful trip to market, we've settled back into our routine. Matthew completed Kindergarten yesterday, and proudly announced this morning that he's in "Kinderfirst" for the summer. He gravely explained that since he was done with kindergarten, but hasn't started first grade, he's a just a little bit of each.

As we unpack our "haul" from market, I've had time to take a second look at everything: new patterns, books, notions, and of course... beautiful fabrics. We tried to shop thoughtfully, with a plan for every purchase. We're very excited to share our ideas with you in the weeks ahead.

One of the most satisfying elements of our trip was the opportunity to personally connect with pattern and fabric designers, quilt shop owners, and experts in our industry. We approached our trip as a welcome learning opportunity, and we were not disappointed. It is truly inspiring to meet others that share our passion for quilting, and share their knowledge and talents so freely.

The best example of this is the time we spent with the talented gals from Bigfork Bay Cotton Company, located in Bigfork, Montana.

Although we didn't know it at the time, we first saw them in the Minneapolis airport, on our way to Pittsburgh. As we walked through the crowd, we spied dozens of quilters on their way to a common destination.

"The Quilters" were easily identified by their lovely hand-made garments, bags, or totes... and by the smiles on their faces and warm greetings for colleagues and friends. The Bigfork Bay team (Lynn, Traci & Carol) walked through the airport clutching carefully rolled quilts, wrapped in protective bags they'd sewn from batiks. "Look over there... more quilters!" we whispered.

Two days later, we connected at their booth. We found out what they had tucked into those pretty batik bags- the most beautiful array of art quilts we've ever seen. We fell in love with the designs by Toni Whitney, including the "Horse Series" and "Wildlife Series". The quilt "Autumn Eyes" shown here is my personal favorite, but they are all simply stunning.

In addition to tempting us with beautiful merchandise, Traci taught us how to demo the technique, explained that the fabric in each of their kits is labeled for easy identification, and spoke of their high quality materials (Batik Textiles Batiks and color-coordinated Aurifil Thread packs).

We were sold! We purchased the complete Toni Whitney collection, and are now offering it online and in the shop. Rather than cut our own kits, we'll stock kits from Bigfork Bay, so quilters can work with the same batiks the artist did. Or, if you'd rather create your own interpretation, start with a pattern and a stack of pretty batiks, and set to work (refer to Rose's version of "Spring Storm" for an example).

We are so glad we went to Pittsburgh. After a long Dakota winter, we needed to get out and "see the world" a little bit. We were enchanted by the beauty of Amish country, amazed by the sights in downtown Pittsburgh, satisfied by the delicious food we tasted, and inspired by the creative energy at quilt market.

For me, the trip forced me to separate from the things I care the most about. Then, I experienced a welcome return, enhanced by new energy, creativity, and knowledge. Most importantly, our trip reminded us of how happy we are to live where we do, loving our family and our pets, following our dreams, working hard at our business, and living each day to the fullest.

Click here to check-out our new selection of Bigfork Bay items. And, if you live in the region, be sure to stop by our booth at the Rapid City Quilt show (June 5-7, Rapid City Civic Center). We'll have a trunk show featuring the "Horse Series" and the "Wild West Series".

Since we returned, my fingers are "itching to stitch", and I've already started working on samples for our newest "Of the Month" project. Click here to learn about the "DCQ Wool Pincushion of the Month". I've been wanting to do this program for a couple of years now, but I just couldn't seem to find the perfect patterns & supplies. But, my wishes came true when I met Mary Flanagan, a hand-dyed wool artist and expert. She helped us choose perfect wool for the delightful patterns designed by Cottage Creek Quilts. It was a "match made in heaven", because she creates such an extensive selection of beautiful wool that each pincushion will be uniquely perfect. This new club is organized very much like our previous auto-ship programs. Although we welcome individual memberships, we also invite groups memberships with significant savings on shipping & kit prices. Words cannot express my excitement about this program... I love wool applique and am excited to introduce it to others. I think the small project size is a perfect fit for summertime. The applique can be accomplished by hand or machine. The finished pincushions can be useful, decorative, or make perfect gifts. We're accepting registrations now, and hope to be ready for the first shipment by mid-June. Oh.. and we promised Ellen that for every new item we added at Market, we'd clear something out! We're officially out of room at the store, and something must go. Accordingly, I marked down the Marcus Brothers wool blend bundles for clearance, so we can add Mary Flanagan's wool. Click here to shop.

As always, Edyta Sitar (Laundry Basket Quilts) was one of our favorite pattern designers at market. Her creative energy and artistic talent are second to none. Imagine our delight when we arrived home to find that the fabrics for her new Spring Meadows Quilt had arrived at the shop while we were gone. Many of you will remember the wildly popular "Let it Snow" batik quilt and runner. Well, she updated the same pattern for her new spring batik collection, and quilt kits are now available. We'll also have runner kits, but I didn't post them online yet because our sample isn't ready for a photo.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! ~ Laura, Wesley & the Staff at Dakota Cabin Quilts