Saturday, December 17, 2011

"The Season is upon us now, the time for gifts and giving....."

     Those are words from a song John Denver sang during a Muppet Christmas Show,  what seems like a long time ago.
                        "..and as the year draws to a close, I think about my living.."
And I think a lot about how I live, especially in the season of focus on what we want, and what to give that might top last year's gift.

    And yet,  I am hearing some wonderful things this Christmas Season.   Common, ordinary people doing some not so ordinary things.  And I am inspired by people who go a step further than throwing some dollars in the red buckets.  I like the little red buckets.  I save dollars so I have them to put in more than just one as I shop.  I think it is easy to give that way.

       I am inspired by the extra effort people are going to to make the holidays special for those who are less fortunate.  First on my list of inspiration is one of my customers who came into the shop soon after Thanksgiving.  She had the name of an elderly person she got from a Christmas Tree somewhere in her shopping.  The woman wanted place mats and napkins.  My friend had a pattern, and she bought some really wonderful Christmas fabric and all she needed to make 4 beautiful place mats and cloth napkins.  She did not ask for sale fabric.  She did not buy the cheapest thing she could find.  She did not go to a box store and find a ready made set.  She bought the best she knew.  I cut her fabric and rang up her bill.  What a gift she was giving--and she still had to cut and pres and sew, sew, sew!!!   I am deeply touched, and I know the woman who opens that gift will be thrilled.

     Having been a member of more than 6 different congregations in my life, I have often heard people say that if something was to be given to poor people, they will be happy for anything.  Or that it is just for the church, quality doesn't matter. I have been trying to figure out for years why someone would give something they would not give a member of their own family.  I love hand-me-downs and shopping for a bargain at Good Will or Gift and Thrift.  Yet, I am inspired to hear stories of people giving and thinking first about what the recipient would really appreciate. 

     I am also hearing of "Anonymous Santas" paying all but the last penny of toys laid away til almost the minute.  I read of a woman who stood in the layaway area, and when  a person who seemed to have needs beyond their means,  came to make a payment on their lay-away--she stepped up and paid the balance.   Where ever it started, it has inspired others to follow her example. 

      I really love that I am seeing people modeling the idea of giving the best they are able to give, and giving in very unexpected ways.   I just finished a gift for a friend.  It is so awesome, ( even if I say so myself!!!) I would like to keep it for myself.  My friend is not expecting it,  and she would not know the difference if I gave her something else.  But I won't.  I love to give gifts that I would enjoy receiving.

     So this year I am looking for ways to be my best and give my best..... inspired by those who go beyond the expected.   Ordinary people giving in extraordinary ways.

     If I do not have time to write again before Christmas, I wish you all the Peace, Hope and Grace that this season celebrates.  The birth of a Child who grew in stature and in favor with God and those around him. And his radical ideas changed the world.   Merry Christmas to all.   Let Peace begin in with me--how I think and how I treat those around me.      .............Rachel
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Remembering Patches

Patches convinced us we needed a shop cat almost 16 years ago.  She was probably 1 or 2 years old when she arrived.  Two weeks ago we had to make the decision that her quality of life was really pretty awful.  As I sat in the veterinarian's treatment room with Patches in my lap, and tears spilling over, I was gently assured that we were making the right decision.

Patches invited herself into our space the fall of the year we opened...1997.  We spent the first month chasing her out, finding her hiding places and putting her gently out for the night.  We finally gave up, bought a litter box, food, had her de-clawed and spayed--the agreement we made with her if she was going to stay.  And she settled in to show us we had made a good decision.  I have often said that she instinctively knew what she had to do and who she had to be in order for her to stay in the shop.

I  think you either love cats, or avoid them.  I also know if you don't like cats, they will follow you, sit near  you and whine at you trying to convince you that you are wrong about them.  The fascinating thing about Patches is that she often was successful.  There were husbands that came under her spell...often declaring that if they could be guaranteed  a  cat like she was, they would have a cat at their house.  You and I know there are no guarantees when it comes to the feline population.  Each one of them has a personality.  We were lucky....and so was Patches.

Patches arrived at our door quite small--and stayed  small all of her life.  No one imagined she was as old as she was.  When she was tearing around the shop in her earlier years it was easy to understand.  In these later years, she seemed even smaller.  She never weighed more than 7 pounds.

She spent many of her early years playing in the rafters, sitting in the warmth of the spotlights, watching the activity below.  Then she would come down to meet and greet customers when she felt like it.  As she aged, she hobbled more---probably from jumping off the rafters one time too many.  She depended more on finding warm places to sleep at table height, or lower.

The Patches era is over.  We will not replace her.  That is not possible.  We will remember her fondly, and live with special memories shared by so many.  The animals in our lives are such great friends.

It is said that a dog has a master.  Cats have a staff.  Which ever you might know what I mean.

I have a cat, Zoey at my house.  She snuggles a little closer, lately.  I miss Patches when I come to the shop, and she does not meet me at the door "complaining" that she has been alone all weekend.  I don't have to check on where she might be hiding.   I don't have to worry when she does not appear until mid afternoon. I know where she is.  I have a vivid memory of a scene from a Disney movie whose main character was  a cat named Thomasina. At the end of all of her lives, as a very old cat  she leaped effortlessly up the stairs to heaven.  And I understand wherever that is, it is a great place for cats.                                                                                 ...Rachel                         
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tour de Quilt, a week later

Recipe for a good time:
1. Grab a good friend, or two or three.
2. Fill the car with gas.
3. Pick up a passport at your favorite quilt shop on the tour.
4. Spend the next three of four days traveling the byways that connect the eight shops.
5. Be sure to stop to eat along the way; take in the beauty of the country side.
6. Shop, chat, tell stories, laugh.

Central Virginia's 12th shop hop is history.  I am happy and tired. I spent  last Tuesday afternoon with the owners of the seven other shops talking about this years tour, and drawing names for the wonderful prizes.  And there were so many of them---really good prizes.  I always enjoy tour weekend.  I see old friends come through our doors, and lots of new travelers as well.  The mix is so much fun, however exhausting it might be at the time. 

This year, the challenge for me was to get the quilt together.  Each shop had the same pattern, and the same fabric.  But we could use our fabric anywhere in the pattern that we wished.  I am used to taking fabric and doing what I want with it.  This year I had to follow the rules, and the pattern.  I still did it my way, but still by the rules.  And I am happy with the result.  Not the quilt I would have designed, but a very beautiful use of pattern and fabric.  The gift for me this year was that by the Monday before the tour began on Thursday, the quilt was finished.  Quilted, bound and ready to hang.  And I was not running around like a mad woman trying to finish my original pattern.  There are some things for which I am grateful. 

At the end of events, I find myself wondering what it would be like to travel this shop hop, be a mouse in someone's pocket, and hear what everyone is saying.  I have been in almost all of the shops, but the excitement and laughter I hear coming through my shop doors makes me think it would be fun to do the tour myself. here's to another great year of quilting.  I'll look forward to smiling faces coming through our door next October.  But don't forget us the rest of the year.  Refer to the list at the top of the page, and don't wait too long to:
1.  Grab a friend or two or three, fill the car with gas, and head out on a quilting journey.
                                                                                                                     peaceful stitching.....Rachel
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

They are never too young ....

Yesterday, as I was helping a student make a purse, Emma brought her little pink step stool,  set it as close to my feet as possible, and wiggled her little self under my arm and into the space in front of me so she could "help Nana".  Emma is growing up in the quilt shop, just like earlier generations grew up on the farm, in the workshop, in a family owned grocery or small business.  

My Grandmother Emma Weaver told of taking my mother as an infant to the Central Market in Lancaster, PA.  (circa 1922)  She would tuck the baby in her basket bed under the counter, where the baby would sleep until she needed to be fed.   My Grandmother would wait on customers selling meat and cheese for the family business, the baby sleeping or playing nearby.   When I visit the  farmer's market in downtown Lancaster I cannot imagine taking an infant there for the day while I worked.  But many women did.  Those children learned early how to talk to people, how to behave in crowds, how to help, how to work....and how to handle money and count back change.  That makes me smile because most teens who might read that last sentence would have no idea what "counting back change" is.  I was an early teen when I learned to wait on customers at the meat and cheese stand at market.  I added columns of numbers without a calculator, doubled and divided weights on the meat scale and counted change with ease.  I learned to treat people kindly, with appreciation for their business, no matter how tired I matter what!!

Our customers tell us that a quilt shop is a wonderful place for a child to grow up in.  I am fortunate to have my daughter and granddaughter with me almost daily.  I am aware that most mothers do not take their little ones to work in a gentle business they share with their mother.  I am grateful.  I also am aware that at times, I take our closeness for granted.  Having Emma around as much as I do, I sometimes brush off her interest in what I am doing with the thought that she is too young.   Yesterday she pushed pins into a piece of fabric, one at a time.  I am amazed at her fine motor skills.  For those who might worry, she has never put pins in her mouth. She doesn't put anything in her mouth that isn't food or water, or her fingers when she is cutting teeth.  She holds a pencil like I do--except she is right handed-- and "writes" with me.  When I sit down to sew at the sewing machine, she comes with her stool to stand close to me, watching closely, putting the pins I pull out of the piece I am sewing back into a pin cushion. 

Our children and grandchildren, the neighbor's children or even kids down the street we may not know, watch us and learn from us.  Often what we do is much bigger than what we say.  Having a very young child around me every day has reminded me how much they pick up, just by watching, and listening as well.  What we say has to line up with what we do, who we are, and how we treat each other. 

They are never to young to learn...and as I think about it, we are never too old, either.  But that's for another time, another page.                                                                                               ....Rachel
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pillowcases... a gift of love

You know when you get an idea...
                and it comes out of your mouth...
                                    and then you're committed.
And then (usually sometime later) you realize your idea may have been 'too big'.
Well that is exactly what happened to me when I committed us, and our customers to making 110 kid themed pillowcases for Camp Dragonfly.

It all began when American Patchwork & Quilting put out a challenge for all the quilt shop and quilters across the country to make one million pillowcases in a last year.  We started with gusto as we solicited customers to make pillowcases for our local Hospice of the Shenandoah.  Without blinking, we had over 100 pillowcases for hospice patients... of all ages.

So while talking to Hospice's director, Lori, Camp Dragonfly came up in conversation.  I figured that if the first round of pillowcases came in so quickly, so would bug or kids pillowcases.  I didn't figure that there really wasn't as much bug fabric out there (on the market) as I thought or that customers would find making pillowcases for kids a challenge. But that's what happened and we were coming on the camp date faster than we were getting pillowcases.

So I sent out a desperation email, made kits, and gave a deadline that gave me enough time to make up the difference in pillowcases if needed.  And, as usual, our customers and some of Hospice's volunteers came through. We surpassed our goal and have enough to start a stash of pillowcases for next year.

All of this leads to a huge THANK YOU to you our generous customers for the gift of your time, talents and fabric to bring some love and sunshine to local kids who are grieving.

We continue to collect pillowcases all year for hospice patients (young and old) as well as continuing our Camp Dragonfly collection for next fall.  We love this 'rolled' pillowcase technique and make a lot of pillowcases for friends and family at the holidays.  Enjoy.  Kay

Rolled Pillowcase - American Patchwork & Quilting

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Super easy, sewing only, tablerunner

About the time you think you've seen it all, a customer walks in with an idea I haven't seen yet. I assure you I know that I haven't seen it all, but new discoveries always make me smile none-the-less. This little story also shows how great ideas spread all over the country.

So Wendy comes in this morning, after visiting a shop in Arkansas.  The shop touted the runner as the '20 minute tablerunner' and Wendy showed me the general idea of it, but I had to Google it.  I found a 10 min, 15 min and 20 minute tablerunner.... all the same concept.  The best pattern I found is from a quilt shop in Iowa.  It is so funny when we all get excited about a concept.

This is an all sewing, no batting, coverlet style runner. I made two with some of the Jason Yenter fabric that I have been wanting to do something with, but needing something that would show off the print. I hope you find it as fun as I have.  
15 Minute Tablerunner - Pineneedles

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Well on their way to being all grown up.

Who are these two cuties?!! They are Brittany Kay Kimble and Everett Brubaker, as flower girl and ring bearer in Travis and my wedding 15 years ago.  Now I am not sure what is more surprising, that it's been 15 years since my wedding or that these two precious little ones are headed to COLLEGE!

Brittany is going to Washington State University and Everett is off to Eastern Mennonite University.  They have grown into wonderful young people.  Individuals in their own right, yet very compassionate.  They have great love for their families, friends, and environment. They make me smile to think of the young people they have become.  I am proud to call Brittany my God-daughter, and Everett  my cousin.  God Bless!! 

Of course they couldn't go off to college without a gift from 'Auntie Kay'. I made matching pillowcases & laundry bags for each of them. Hopefully, the pillowcase will bring them a smile if they are lonely, and the bag will be strong for hauling that laundry home (haha... not a possibility for Brittany unless it's at Christmas!)

Signing off before the tears start....
Love & Peace to you, Kay

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

...reflections relevant to life, love, all things fabric and yarn...and today FOOD

This space reflects the relevancy to life and love, and that covers about everything.  I am a total package, of what I am not always sure.  But Monday afternoon after a morning of pretty serious conversations, and being present with my lonely, sad self, I decided I needed some nurturing.

Nurturing myself comes in several forms in my life. Most recently, time with friends, time sewing, a little knitting here and there and always writing.  But late Monday afternoon, I opened my refrigerator to see again an extra 2 quarts of milk I had purchased forgetting I still had 2 quarts in the frig...waste not want not.  I will make pudding.  Feed my dreary sweet self with a bit of comfort food.

Pudding from scratch is the only way to go.  I am sorry busy people. The chemicals in the box do not count!!  When I looked at the milk it is 1%;  I cannot make good pudding with low fat milk.  I seldom go to the grocery store for one ingredient.  But I needed half and half and whipping cream to bolster the low fat milk.  I looked at my day-off-straight-haired-strubbly face in the mirror.  I twisted my hair up under my favorite Cubbies cap, and headed for Food Lion for just 2 ingredients: half and half and whipping cream--not the heavy stuff, just whipping cream.  And I made the entire two-mile round trip without seeing anyone I knew.

Back home, I need a bit of background noise.  I turn on the TV.  And there is Ellen Degeneres.  Perfect.  I need some laughter and silliness in my day. And Ellen does silly and funny very well.  She will be my cooking companion. Laughter fills the room as she spins yet another funny story.

Cooking is a bit of a ritual for me.  I assembled all of my ingredients.  And my equipment as well.  Miss Stech (Manchester College, Indiana--1966) taught me well.  Bowls for eggs.  Bowls for sugar and milk and cornstarch.  My favorite silicone wire whisk, a bowl scraper and at least 2 wooden spoons because I'll probably misplace one before the evening is over. And a mug full of cute little tasting spoons.  Milk, half and half, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, salt and really good vanilla. Oh, yes, a cloth to wipe up dribbles and spills.

I scalded, mixed, beat and whipped, tempered the eggs perfectly, blended and poured.  The pudding came together so well, I got a little carried away.  If vanilla pudding is good, what would make it better--stir in some taste.   It  wasn't enough for 10 servings.  So, I stirred up another pot of pudding, and added chocolate.  I dug out my Christmas dessert dishes.  A layer of coconut pudding, one of chocolate, almost to the top.  A Mounds Bar parfait.  Something was missing.. In my freezer I found a cup of slivered almonds.  Toasted with several teaspoons of sugar in a pan will make a praline topping for my dessert.

By now Ellen has led to Dr. Oz....please don't talk about cholesterol today.  But I barely listen.
Then the news, then I turn it over to one more NCIS rerun.  David McCallum and I go way back to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (circa 1965).  He's good company,  But again, it is background as I stir the almonds until they are coated just right. 

This week our Small Group meets on Tuesday.  My assignment for our meal together is dessert.  And there it is.  I scoop the cooled almond off the wax paper and into an airtight container.  I will add them as I serve the pudding.  Almond Joy!!!

Self care this one Monday evening meant time in my little kitchen.  I feel so much better.  Therapy comes in so many forms.   The dishes can wait.    ......... Rachel

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

New Digs - Kay

Yes, it has been several months since we have posted from our 'new' space. We have been busy, but that's no excuse! We have shifted around a little bit more, and are feeling terrific in our new space.

Our new favorite 'yarn' is the Katia Triana novelty yarns and really I should be online looking for more colors that are available.

We have new fabric book panels available and they make the sweetest gift for a new baby. Jason Yenter's Christmas line are very popular right now... are you getting ready for Christmas? I know it sounds crazy, but it won't be long.

So we'll do better about posting, and the new blog will be more blog-like... reflections and ramblings relevant to life, love, and all things fabric and yarn.
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Change is good--it really is.

Change is not easy, but as I opened the door to our re-configured space at Rachel's Quilt Patch, it felt really good. Kay and I worked for three days moving furniture inventory and making decisions about where things will go, how the space will look, and how we feel about our decision to change. This morning, all of the angst I had felt, and all the second guessing that I had done with friends and family, and the decision process itself, seemed to fall away, as I wiggled the door open and stepped inside. This really is the right decision. It is comforting to get on this side of a major decision, and feel good about it.

Having said that, we did our homework, talking to the landlord, working and reworking our ideas, considering options, making list of pros and cons, and through it all, dreaming about what we really want for our space and for our time. The dream continues. Dreams grow, and with growth, change happens. It feels good to have some control of the process.

I am looking forward to all the possibility, promise and potential this space has to offer. Every day is new and full of hope for what can be. Stay tuned.
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Have you been wondering, “What is going on at Rachel’s?”.
In an effort to use energy and space more efficiently, we are working with our landlord to remodel, reset and reconfigure Rachel’s Quilt Patch. That means change. You will come in a different door. Our space will look different. What will not change is our goal to bring you great fabric, wonderful yarn, and the customer service you are accustomed to receiving from us..

Please bear with us over the next few weeks as we make these changes. The shop will be closed Monday, April 4 & Tuesday, April 5 so we can focus on the task of re-creating our floor space. Our goal is to become better stewards of our time, our space, and energy needs. Will re-open Wednesday, April 6 with a new look but the same heart.

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