Hooray for Shop Hops!

February 23, 2010 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

Even though I’m trying to continue a “fabric diet,” since I have way too much fabric as it is, I’m planning a mini shop hop for tomorrow when I’m off work.  I do not intend to purchase fabric, (unless of course it’s absolutely irresistable and non-negotiable, or on sale!) but I’m on the lookout for some batting and some threads.

Every year, my mom and I go on the Eastern Pennsylvania Quilt Shop Hop, which sends us to 12 shops.  Participants buy a “passport” for $5 at any participating shop, which comes with a block kit and coupons for return trips after the shop hop ends.  If you get your passport stamped at each of the 12 participating shops and turn it in at the final one, you are entered into a drawing for some fairly fabulous prizes, including a sewing machine, a $1000 shopping spree, and a hand quilted queen size quilt.  Even if you don’t make it to all the shops, there are door prizes, refreshments, and special sales, as well as different block kits at each shop for a block using that year’s selected shop hop fabrics.  A highlight for me is always seeing the different quilts each shop makes with the same blocks; I take pictures at each shop and basically have a textbook on different ways to set sampler blocks.  Plus, it’s an excuse for me to spend time with my mom, running around to a bunch of shops and having a ball.

2009 Shop Hop Quilt

2009 Shop Hop Quilt, Endless Mountains Quiltworks

We never would have found out about the town of Tunkhannock, PA, had not the excellent shop there, Endless Mountains Quiltworks, been on the hop.  Every year I look forward not only to seeing owner Jeannette’s lovely shop, but also seeing the gorgeous fall colors and spectacularly maintained Victorian architecture of the town — and lunch at the delightful Patsel’s restaurant in Clark’s Summit afterward!  We now also attend the annual Airing of the Quilts there the first Saturday in October, which has grown to encompass not only the original community outdoor quilt exhibit but also an indoor guild show, a one-woman show by a local quilter at the Catholic church, quilt-related performances at the local Dietrich Theater, and a trolley ride.

The Airing of the Quilts

The Airing of the Quilts

Shop hopping on an unofficial, casual basis is always a fun thing to do with friends.  Rhonda, Diane and I hit several of the southern Pennsylvania / northern Maryland shops on a quilting weekend in August, including Needle & Thread in Gettysburg, Sisto’s and Needles & Pins in Frederick, Patches in Mt. Airy, and Seminole Sampler in Catonsville.  It’s particularly exciting to have a specific project to collect fabrics and supplies for as you go from shop to shop, and to have friends along to help with the decision-making process.

Tomorrow, my primary destination is The Quilter’s Palette in Fleetwood so I can use my gift certificate prize from “Kyoto Ink,” then I’ll go over to Ladyfingers in Oley and Wooden Bridge Drygoods in Kutztown.  If time allows, I’ll swing by Sauder’s and/or Burkholder’s in Denver, PA  on my way home.  Hopefully, among all those shops, I’ll be able to find the wool batting I’d like to use in “Ruby Wedding.”  It’s a great big quilt, 90″ square, and several of the wool battings I’ve been able to find described online are only 90-93″ wide, so if I can’t find something at least 96″ wide, I’ll have to rethink using wool.  I’ve been wanting to use wool for a while based on learning Diane Gaudynski has switched to it exclusively.  Supposedly it creates a lot more loft than cotton while being much easier to machine quilt with than polyester.  On one hand, I’m hesitant to use an unknown product on a quilt of this importance; on the other hand, if the results are as fabulous as reported, I’d hate to pass them by.  I know I should try it out on a smaller/lesser quilt first, and perhaps I will, but ultimately, wool deserves to be slept under.  I’ll have to see if I can find an unfinished quilt top that needs to be quilted fairly simply.  I might have one or two of those lying around somewhere.

But back to shop hops as a concept:  quilting is such a tactile pursuit that I can’t entirely embrace online shopping.  I need to pet the fabric before I buy it, and I can only do that in person.  Besides, I love quilt shops and want to do what I can to support and celebrate their continued existence.  The recession has not been kind to small businesses; several shops I know and once frequented have closed in the last two years.  The following statistics were passed along to me by a guild friend:

The percentage of the money you spend that stays in the local community if you shop at:

– a local quilt shop:  68%

– a big national chain:  43%

– an internet retailer:  0%

There are fewer shops local to me than there used to be, and no one shop can carry everything each local quilter needs, let alone everything we might want to see.  So rather than turning to the internet or catalogs, I’m going on a little shop hop.  Especially after having been so recently cooped up due to snow, it may be just what the doctor ordered.

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Entry filed under: Fabric Shopping, Travel, WIPs. Tags: , , , .

Hooray for Retreats! My Shop Hop in Review

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