Getting hip with one-person shop hop
For me, a road trip doubles as a one-person shop hop, because I seek out and stop for a visit at every known quilt store along the way.
I’m not the only one who does this; an entire publication exists detailing quilt shops for travelers across America and Canada: “Quilters’ Travel Companion,” 12th edition.
Right after Labor Day, my husband and I took a road trip to the Four Corners area. We drove the Moab, Utah, route and veered through Cortez on our way to Farmington, N.M., on the first day.
Now, I don’t go all willy-nilly buying unnecessary items. I always have a list of required supplies, and I like to see what’s new at different shops. I managed to hit nine quilt shops in four days as we drove 1,097 miles through three states. Not bad and, after all, I was observing National Sewing Month.
So we’re driving down U.S. Highway 191 with my list of seven items in hand. Moab has a nice shop, but I’d been there before, and it was too early in the trip for a browsing break.
A hundred miles farther, we spotted the Cortez Quilt Co. on West Main Street. Inside, I raided a clearance rack — eight orange decorative grommets for $3 (for purses I plan to make) and a pack of five Metafil machine needles for $3. I also purchased two fat quarters of fabric, $1.50 each, two packages of embroidered buttons by Basic Grey (gifts for friends) and an invisible sew-in magnetic snap (also for a handbag I’m planning).
Back in our Nissan, we traveled through the Navajo Nation reservation, seeing Shiprock Rock along the way, and got our first glimpse of Farmington.
I have to say my favorite place in Farmington is the Patchwork Pig quilt store and gallery.
Without prodding, a friendly clerk named Judy wrote out a list in perfect penmanship of other shops in the direction we were headed. She also shared in great detail where to turn in each community for easiest access. I admire her sense of reciprocity, which seems much more congenial than contentious rivalry. (It’s the “attract more flies with honey than vinegar” philosophy.)
“Well, every shop is different,” Judy says. “You have to see them all.”
That’s right, because each shop’s inventory depends on the individual owner’s taste.
“But my husband doesn’t understand that,” she laments, describing his mindset as the “seen one, seen them all” type.
Among the Patchwork Pig’s 3,500 bolts of fabric, I discovered an orange-based multicolored batik in Blank Quilting company’s Sumatra collection, perfect for some canyon landscapes I have in mind. I also bought a Perfect Piecing Seam Guide, because I’m always seeking that elusive scant quarter-inch seam, aren’t you?
Patchwork Pig rang up my biggest tab of the trip, after I added a $25 book to it. “Creative Quilts from Your Crayon Box” by Terrie Linn Kygar promises wonderful results in a “melt-n-blend meets fusible appliqué” technique.
No kidding, regular crayons blended into fabric with the tip of a paper towel: I couldn’t resist that.
Thanks Judy, you are super.
The next shop on my personal hop, Quilt It Ya Ya, was literally off the beaten path in Aztec, N.M., a mere 14 miles northeast of Farmington on state Highway 516.
Inside a small neighborhood house with an untidy front yard, I found rooms full of fabric and an enthusiastic owner, who shared her most recent experiences as president of the local guild. They have a contingent that wants to explore more art quilting.
Her shop also displayed a large sign that coaxed customers: “Your husband called and said you can buy anything you want.” My spouse spied this and wasn’t sure if he should grin or grumble.
I limited myself to a couple yards of Benartex fabrics, and we were off to visit the Aztec Ruins, a nearby national monument built by ancestral Pueblo people in the late 1000s.
Constructed of thick walls with a core of roughly shaped stones and mud mortar, sandwiched between sandstone exteriors, the ruins consisted of numerous kivas and what once was a three-story building with more than 500 rooms.
Centuries-old wood juts out as poles from the ancient architecture, their shadows falling heavily like ceremonial drumbeats on the sunlit stones.
I photographed these shadows and a series of low doorways through dimly lit tunnels that seemed to never end, as inspiration for future pictorial quilts I’d like to design.
Soon after, in Pagosa Springs, we discovered the Eagle Mountain Mercantile in a modern strip mall, where the owner’s wife had carved a small space in the back for a quilt shop.
The fabric area was crowded with quilters, and two of them were regulars from Santa Fe, N.M. My purchase: two yards of black poly webbing for purse handles.
On we drove over Wolf Creek Pass to Kathy’s Fabric Shop, a homey place in Del Norte, and a quilt shop along the same highway that happened to be closed that day. Over La Veta Pass to Walsenburg to Interstate 25, we buzzed into Colorado Springs to visit some favorite haunts.
With Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods as our backdrop, I was happy to locate a new free-standing Jo-Ann’s Super Store in the northeast part of the city, where I finally found wood-and-leather handles that I wanted for a penny wool handbag I’d already sewn.
I also have been searching for a plastic clip device to make stuffed biscuit or puff quilts and, to my surprise, Ruth’s Stitchery on Austin Bluffs Parkway had one in stock made by Clover. It’s mine now.
In Old Colorado City, I was happy to enter Nana’s Quilt Cottage on a hilly side street.
The animated owner said she opened in 2010 and showed me a new Daiwabo fabric selection with gradient colors by E.E. Schneck Co. Irresistible.
That and a half-price 2011 publication titled “Quilt Retro” (K.C. Star Co.) completed my transaction.
That was my last shop. Total expenditure on this excursion: $162.32, an average of $23 a stop. I’m a thrifty shopper, and I have so much fun.
Even though my husband isn’t all that hip on hopping, he’s in tune with the notion that a happy quilter is one who gets to hop ... a lot.
Email Sherida.Warner@ GJSentinel.com.