For more than 30 years, the Great American Quilt Factory, also known locally as GAQF, has been a staple of the local fabric scene... The closest shop to my house, and the first store I hit when we moved here 11 years ago, it was never my favorite (prices at the high end, not my favorite for customer service), but they offered great classes, had a huge fabric and thread selection, and generally served as a hub for all sorts of quilt-y activity.
About 2 weeks ago, out of what seemed like nowhere, customers received an email (or in my case, oddly, snail mail) stating that the owners would be retiring immediately, and the store closing sale would commence ASAP. The letter detailed the exclusivity of the sale and the need to bring your invite to shop- as the sale would not be open to the public until 2/16.
So I rearranged my work schedule to spend a Thursday morning bargain hunting. I arrived before the store opened, as a serious shopper should, and noticed the first problem immediately.
The "secret sale" was advertised in 3 feet high neon letters... Hmm... By the time the store opened there were at least a hundred people in line, and more pouring in every second. No invites were checked. The store rapidly became a teeming mass of humanity. There was no room to walk, let alone shop- or even breathe. It was bad enough for me, but for the elderly shoppers, or moms who had brought little ones with them, it was a very special kind of hell.
Lines at the cutting tables were stacked 25 deep... Some older, highly overdressed gentlemen were directing people to sign up for the prize drawings- a very very bizarre collection of non-fabric related electronic items that you could win by earning "prize dollars" through inane things like revealing your weight, or bringing in multiple family members. These gentlemen turned out to work for the consulting firm that was apparently actually paid to "organize" this disaster. If I knew the name of the company, I'd lodge a complaint with the BBB.
I finally made it to the front of the cutting table line- and while I was in the line, a fire marshall came in to examine the chaos. He ordered people out of certain areas, and stopped the influx of new shoppers, but only temporarily. It didn't seem to help at all, and I wish so much he'd put a stop to things then.
I made it from the cutting table to the checkout line after about an hour in the store- and that was when it got really, really, horrible. The line wasn't just stagnant, it was not moving, not even an inch. After 15 minutes without any movement, someone went to check- and it turned out there were 4 lines- and only 2 were "real"- the other 2 were not being served at all. Guess where I was? Yeah. Fun. They started feeding from all 4 lines at that point, and we began to move foward at a pace that would have shamed a snail. After 2 freaking hours, I had made it about halfway to the front.
Yes, I waited in the line for 2 hours. I had cut fabric, and a gorgeous full bolt of high quality black solid, and a huge collection of aurafil thread, and damnit, I was going to buy it. Except I actually HAD to get to work by this point. The "consultant" could not give me an answer as to what to do about the items I had been trying to purchase for two full hours, and finally, I found a store employee who let me leave my full basket, along with credit card info, in the back room to purchase the next day.
Want to know what exactly made the line move so slowly? For a sale advertised to thousands of customers, the "consultants" did not advise the store to rent more registers or credit card machines than normal. So, they had 2 registers and ONE credit card machine to serve the hundreds of folks in line. Oh, and they weren't accepting checks, so, guess how everyone was paying?
My amazing husband went back on Friday (his day off) right at opening and went straight to the register. He managed to claim my items, but, thanks to the VERY crabby employee at the cash register, I ended up being overcharged- some thread made it onto the charge, but not into the bag. I still came out ahead, but, that really cut into my savings.
All that agony for this tiny pile. I'd be happier if you could see two more spools of aurafil. But that black will be put to very, very good use.
The saddest part was that this 30 year institution went out on such a horrid note. I sincerely hope the so-called "consultants" refunded every penny they were paid. I've never seen such a clusterf*** in my life- and if quilters weren't by nature such nice people, it could have been even uglier.
This past weekend was the 20th annual Estes Park Wool Market. Whee! Yarn! Cute fleece-bearing animals! What could be better? Well, maybe a day that's not pouring with rain and icy cold to boot? Yeah, I s'pose... But it was a fun family outing even so.
The vendor barn was even more packed than usual, what with people hiding from the awful weather. I'm not such a very huge fan of crazy crowds, especially not when everyone is dripping wet. This probably saved me money in the long run, since I didn't want to hang out in the barn for too long. Many of the vendors were repeats from years past, which was fine, but not super inspiring. There was one booth I'd never seen before, and that was the only one that got any of my money... Creatively Dyed Yarns. Their colors were phenomenally luscious. 2 skeins of superwash fingering weight yarn made it into my bag...
Yummy- like real cumin!
I was not the only one who had fun... Henry made a new best friend.
We went into town after we played. Estes Park is a cute mountain resort town- home of The Stanley Hotel, inspiration for The Shining. There's a little river that runs gently through the town, with a small area where kids can approach and wade in, splash, etc. Well, before the weekend, Colorado had over a week of crazy high temperatures. These temps started melting the mountain snow- way too fast. Front range rivers have been flooding their banks and raging for the last 2 weeks- there have been tragic drownings, property damage, and more... So we weren't surprised to see our sweet little river play area roped off for safety.
The water was raging by, and almost touching the base of the bridge!
Hopefully the cool temps followed by more normal warm temps will slow or stop the flooding... Meanwhile, let me leave you with the cutest guy, ever...He likes to be rubbed under his chin, in case you were wondering.
I may have bought a wee little bit of yarn lately.
Just a wee bit.
All of this yarn save for the red and blue skein on the top left, is from Coppelia's Needlepoint and The Shivering Sheep. You see, the store recently closed due to the owner's health problems. And that meant, a giant sale.
I thought it was giant enough at 40% off, and so, two Saturdays ago, I hauled the entire fam out for a S.E.X. (stash enhancement excursion). I bought up some lovely lovely sock yarn (the bottom 2 rows of that mosaic up there), and was good, and put back about 1/3 of what I picked up.
I went home happy, fondled my yarn, uploaded it to Ravelry, and put the sale out of my head.
Until I heard...
The following Saturday, from 8-9am only, 70% off everything left in the store. Who could resist? (Some people could, but they are stronger than me!) At 7:48 am, I was out front, along with some friends and co-workers too! The first 10 minutes or so were very calm and not too crowded, and I was thrilled to find 3 things that I had put back at 40% off were still there! (I did my best not to wonder if any of my previous purchases might have waited for me, as well...)
I bought a big ole pile of goodness- the top 4 rows, save for the 2 photos on the top left- but I did put back a big pile, too! No, really, I did. At 70% off, it was the perfect time to try some really indulgent yarns that I would never ever have bought otherwise- the Elsbeth Lavold Silky Cashmere and the Artyarns Regal Silk. And let's not forget all sorts of yarn with Alpaca in it. YUM. Or ribbon yarn, or beaded yarn. As the store got more crowded, I almost lost one skeinto someone shopping out of my basket- I had strayed too far from it- so after that, the basket was glued to my hand! My only sadness? The Noro that I had resisted at 40% off, was all gone before the 70% off started. Ah well.
But wait- isn't there Noro in that mosaic? Why yes, there is! It pays to know someone who is helping to run the store closing sale! It pays even more to work with her, so that when 2 skeins of the amazing Noro appear magically at the end of the last day, she knows a) that they are the color you would have wanted and b) she can buy them, and get you to pay her back at work the next day!
After spending the kids' college funds on yarn, I enjoyed a lovely chat with a friend over at Panera. We were not the only crazy knitters fondling yarn on their tabletops that day... Katherine, thanks for the company and chatting!
You'd think that was the end of my yarn tale, but there is one last skein to celebrate. I think we all know how I feel about our new President, and that the Inauguration was a very special day for me... Well, browsing on Flickr I came across a photo from a Flickr friend of the most gorgeous Inauguration sock yarn... Dyed by sKnitches, it is shot through with the most amazing silver. And remember knitters, it always pays to ask: when I got to the website, it was listed as sold out. WAH! I contacted the shop, and they still had 2 in stock! It arrived last night, shipped safely and gorgeously and quickly to me. Time for some Socks of Hope and Change!
Time for lots of socks, actually. I did a tally of my Ravelry stash page, and there's 25 pairs worth of sock yarn, just waiting to be knitted up. At my one sock per week or so speed, that's an entire years worth of sock knitting! Yikes.
Don't expect to see any S.E.X. around here for a while- in this economy, I do believe I just bought my entire year's allotment of yarn. Good thing I have enough to last all year and then some, eh?
This past Thurs-Sun was the 3rd annual Denver National Quilt Festival, and my second year going. If anything this year was even better than last. (Except that I didn't get to meet up with Deb or Fran this year... But I did go with Charlotte from my quilt group, and run into several old friends). There are so many amazing quilts to view, between the actual competition entries and the various shows, that it's darn near overwhelming. To share the experience with all y'all, I took a few (131) photos... If you want to see some of the most amazing eye candy ever, go here.
And prepare to be amazed. I have details on some but not all of the quilts in my own files- feel free to ask if you want more info. The most efficient way would probably be to leave a comment on the actual flickr page of the quilt you're interested in.
In the interest of brevity, I'm only going to show my absolute favorite piece right here. Meet Pat, Quilting Goddess.
She's amazing! There are close up detail shots in the Flickr set... you've got to check her out!
And of course, there were also vendors- though less than last year. This year had more quilts to admire than things to buy, wehich, judging by how much I bought anyway, was probably a damn good thing!
I started with this lovely African basket, intended to hold knitting WIPs at home.
It was empty when I bought it. but not for long! It made a great shopping basket! See?
Gulp! Here's the majority of the contents.
And my favorite pile of half-yards from the day:
I also bought 2 patterns and- a hat. A fabulous hat. The best hat ever. Made from recycled men's suits and ties. And some X-rated fabric. I kid you not. Click here if you dare, but not if you are easily offended. For a hint as to the content, a portion of the proceeds goes to prostate cancer reserach... 2 of those are for me, one for a friend. And I made certain to get the store's ordering info, if anyone wants some. Just let me know- I left the card at home, but can email you the details later. Now, to keep haunting the mailbox for my Doll quilt Swap 3 piece!
I'm blogging from bed.
It's SO cool. As of 5:15pm this evening, I am the proud owner of this:
And, dontcha know, it's very very important to coordinate your laptop with your bed. I didn't even know these things came in purple...
It's even got a pretty floral pattern on it. Wow! I've never had a laptop before, but I've been coveting one for the last year. The last 5 hours have been heavenly. It's really, really wonderful to be able to blog from bed tonight. Why? Well, baby Bella decided she wanted to see St. Patrick's Day, and we were awoken at 4:45am to take charge of her older sister. Lauren, resilient almost 7 year old that she is, fell right back asleep in our guest room, but The Hubby and I were too wired to pass out again. And of course, it was a regular work day... Bella was born at 11:07am, and is happy and healthy. But still quilt-less. It's pinned and ready to be quilted... I'll get to it ASAP, I swear!
Meanwhile, I can show you how we celebrated National Quilting Day. We turned it into a family affair, and started the day at IHOP.
This monstrosity is Horton Hears a Who Pancakes. Yikes! Needless to say, the kids were thrilled.
Then the entire family headed up to Boulder to check out a going-out-of-business quilt shop. 40% minimum off all fabric... I'd never been to this store before, but I'm not one to pass up a bargain! It was well worth the drive- the store was very picked over but still had an amazing selection of batiks.
I also bought some random fat quarters...
I grabbed an Amy Butler bag pattern, some thread, and some embellishment stuff too. Yikes! We then spent the rest of the afternoon strolling the Pearl Street Mall, shopping, watching street performers, and having ice cream- because clearly those pancakes were way too healthy by themselves. You'd think that would be enough stash enhancement for anyone, but I also took advantage of eQuilter's big annual birthday sale...
The best part was 8 yards of that blue Kaffe corn row fabric- it's for the back of this one. And the Flea Market Fancy bits make me very happy. The 2 Xmas fabrics don't make me so happy- they looked much more brilliant on-line. Ah, well, with the amount of on-line shopping I do, it's a miracle I'm not disappointed more often.
I love it! Sometime soon, I'll have to post just about my recent etsy treasures. I swear, that website is more dangerous than crack. Well, maybe not, but... I certainly can do damage there!
Phew! I think I'm out of new fabric to show you. Hard to believe. I do have some new yarn, but, that can wait.
And in all the excitement over Bella's arrival, I almost forgot. St. Patrick's Day is special to me for another reason. 12 years ago tonight, I was out and about with a girlfriend. We stopped into a few bars that night, it being that day and all. Our final stop was Bill's Bar, where I knew the door guys and the manager. And that manager? The Hubby! That was the night he asked me out for the first time. We've been together 12 years now! Whoa... We'll be married 9 this summer, but, 12 together? Who woulda thunk it? I need to dig up a photo of us back then for you all.
Well, my folks are in town, and not surprisingly, there's no crafty action round these parts at the moment. I can report that Monkeyin' Around and All About E went to their new owners- well, to Ben and his mom as baby bro Joe isn't here yet... and both quilts were well received and well loved. I gave them to her in person before the shower, as I wanted to see her open them MORE than I wanted to hear about strangers ooohing and ahhing at them... So, that's done. 2 more baby boy quilts in my near future, though. Good thing I have some more monkeys to play with!
Meanwhile, there is lots of FABRIC action at my place. You see, lately I've won not one but 2 little fabric contests. Really, is there anything better than FREE fabric? Piece #1: a lovely retro-mod Alexander Henry piece, a full yard, from Sew Mama Sew! Yum!
They even let me pick my prize. And I was smitten by the colors and the cuteness of this one.
Then, back at Flickr, Starlit Nest, who has a fabulous etsy shop full of some of the tastiest fabrics in print, had a little contest to answer a question about one of her quilts. I was the first one to get it right, and so she gave me a sweet little gift certificate to her store. Where, after much deliberation, I picked... 3 Joel Dewberry FQs from the Aviary line that is taking the craft world by storm.
No photo here, so you'll have to take my word for it, but, I increased my Kaffe collection hugely last week. You see, my favorite online retailer of Kaffes, who routinely offers than at $2/yard LESS than my LQS, not to mention who also has a fabulous selection and decent customer service, had a HUGE Kaffe sale. $1 off per yard- which brought even the newest and most exciting pieces to $6.99 per yard. Which, for Kaffe, is an amazing deal. And so, I bought several pieces from the latest line- Targets, Bekah, Aboriginal Dots, and Jungle Stripe. And some more shot cotton as well. One piece they sent me was from the wrong color way, and I am waiting to hear back from them about getting the right one. So, I may have a different opinion on their customer service soon ;-) These new purchases were made with that Kaffe Lonestar I fantasized about around new year's in mind... We'll see if I brave it! Also, I have an idea for a Hopscotch quilt in batiks and Kaffes. It's a Denyse Schmidt pattern, given away free here. I have several yards of a gorgeous grey batik to use as background- picked up on clearance no less! And I thought, with many of my purple-y Kaffes, this would be stunning. So, look for that soon! When my folks leave and sewing recommences.
Meanwhile, I'll enjoy their company- and the fact that the Hubby and I had that 8th anniversary date last night. And the best glass of wine I have had in ages. I got the waitress to right the name down, and I'm hitting the fabulous liquor store down the street from my office ASAP to see if I can get it for myself at home... And thank you all for the wonderful anniversary wishes! You're a great bunch out there in blog-land, and I am honored to share my anniversary with so many others, and other birthdays, too! Clearly, July 31st is a great day for many of us! At last count, there were 5 birthdays (not including Harry) and one other anniversary mentioned by others out there... WOW!
This weekend was the annual Creative Festival at the local merchandise mart. I try to go every year, and this year, I met up with a buddy and her daughter- who is just a few months older than Princess Girl. I think it's safe to say a new friendship bloomed! It was an interesting shopping experience too- MF is a crazy quilter, and so she bought from booths I don't think I've ever even noticed! My eyes are opened wider! And, we got to visit with Kari and see the newly revealed Mountain Peek Creation, Peaks and Valleys (so new it's not on the site yet, but look what is!)
I however, went crazy on traditional fabric. It was a fire sale sort of deal- store closed due to family circumstances, all fabric at their booth was- wait for it- sit down- are you ready? $5.25 a yard.
2 skeins of Prism Yarns Galaxy in Midnight. These skeins are irregular- the silver puckers a bit- and so were $11 each instead of $25! Score- I actually think the puckers look nifty. I'm thinking a drop stitch scarf for me, or, any ideas, anyone?
No, I'm not playing promiscuous party games. My 15 minutes in heaven was here:
Ikea Atlanta!!! Oh, Ikea, how do I love you? Let me count the ways... cool kid's furniture. Amazing lamps and lighting. Elaborate Swedish names for everything. Cheap, funky, modern and minimal furniture. And meatballs.
Why just 15 minutes? After walking what felt like 90 miles in the Georgia Aquarium (more in another post), I learned that there was an Ikea in ATL, mere minutes from our hotel. I begged and pleaded- my dad was in charge of the rental van and he hates Ikea. Finally, my whimpering won out, but we were allotted enough time to eat- everyone had meatballs except Train Boy- and then, 15 minutes to roam the store. Anyone who has ever been to an Ikea knows- 15 minutes is a cruel joke. Still, 15 minutes is better than nothing, which is what I have had in the last 3.5 years... We bought some picture frames, a lamp for the bedroom, and a dragon toy holder for Train Boy's wall- all things that should fit in our suitcases (I have learned to always leave room in my suitcases as I tend to accumulate a lot on vacations...)
Oh, Ikea, please please come to Denver. Please?
Meanwhile, I'm still in SC with the family, having a grand old time. Anyone know of any quilt shops or yarn stores in the Hilton Head or Savannah general vicinities?
Friday saw me abandoning The Hubby and Princess Girl (school was closed all day for a fund-raising carnival) and heading to the hills. This weekend was the annual Quilt-A-Fair, sponsored by the Colorado Quilting Council. It's a vendor show with raffle quilts on display. Even as I drove away, I was wondering if it made sense to drive an hour in each direction, to go shopping??? Hmm, seems like maybe a bad plan? I hadn't been to this event in 4 or more years- not since before Train Boy appeared on the scene.
But I did go. And I am certain you will all be shocked to know that I bought- yards and yards of batiks. Most of them purple.
One vendor was selling stunning batiks for $6 per yard cut. I mean, how could I resist? So much for all the hard work I've done busting my purple batik stash this year... It's like a hydra, and keeps growing more heads. (My fault? What? Can't hear you... la la la laaaaa.) In my defense, 4 pieces pictured are FQs and 2 are 1/2 yards. But, one is 3 yards and one is 2... Leaving 5 single yard cuts. Yum.
I also bought 2 patterns. I saw many many patterns that I loved, but, I realized my to-do list is long, and there are many unused patterns in my pattern stash folder. In fact, it literally burst at the seams a few weeks back. What a mess. So, I only bought 2- which was herculean resistance for me. One easy batik stash buster log-cabin take off, and one stunning tiny squares piece. I thought it looked sort of like crocheted granny squares, but with my fave fabrics. Can't wait to do it. It may end up as bed quilt #4 in my 4-seasons-of-bed-quilts plan!
Oh, and, a "sweet treat" of 8 more batik fat quarters. Ahem, yes, that would be another 2 yards of purple-y batiks.
And, I saw tons of folks I used to work with back in the day. Some hadn't seen me since I was pregnant with Train Boy, so I got to whip out my iPod and show off photos! Fun! It was a little like visiting with long lost relatives, albeit in a hot, sweaty county fair building full of slightly manic quilters. Quilting Up A Storm had a booth, and I also got to hang out with Kari for a while. Hi, Kari!
Pretty much everything in the booth that you can see= original Kari design. And, one really nifty highlight of the fair was seeing Kari's quilts and patterns being displayed in OTHER vendor's booths- including a Fractions just one booth over. How cool :-)
I even "discovered" a new-to-me store. Their booth drew me in with what can be described as my fabric version of crack: Kaffe, Kaffe everywhere, and also Amy Butler! It's called "The Fabric Shop", and while I've never heard of it before, I can already hear myself planning a family day in the mountains with one little extra stop... I bought that awesome Color My World pattern from them... I'd link to the store, but can't find a site for it.
Oh, and we also road the rails this weekend. Day Out With Thomas, aka how to part the family of young boys from their $$$.
Train Boy was in heaven- and it wasn't even Thomas that sent him over the moon. The CO Railroad Museum has some very elaborate model trains set up, and we literally had to drag him away. Thank goodness he accepted a bribe of kettle corn or we might be there still. We got him a $10 membership in their "Pee Wee Club". He's thrilled, and I'm sure we'll be back soon!