Sunday, June 28, 2009

What Is This Tool and Why Am I Hunting All Over For It?

Have you seen this kitchen gadget?

I have been looking high and low trying to find it. I knew it was some type of whisk. The first step was finding out what was it's actual name. After googling for a while, I discovered it was called a spiral whisk and it seemed the only manufacturer was Rosle.
Now where to find it. There were a few places where I could order it on-line, but couldn't I find it locally? Why pay for shipping? So, I went to Target. No luck. I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond. They have floor to ceiling walls of cooking gagdets. You would think I would find it there. No luck. I was heading to the King of Prussia Mall (to get eyeglasses). It used to be one the largest malls in America. Could I find it there in one of their kitchen stores? Before I went I decided to let my fingers do the walking. I searched the websites of Kitchen Kapers and Williams Sonoma. No luck.
In a desperate move, I decided to check Bloomingdale's website. I don't know why I tried their website. It's not a place where I frequently shop. But BINGO! There it was and at a much cheaper price than if I ordered it on-line.
So for a Friday night date, my husband and I headed out to the mall to get eyeglasses and my spiral whisk. After searching for and then finding the housewares department in Bloomingdales, I found the gagdet wall and all of their fancy whisks. And there it was - the spiral whisk. There was only one left. I grabbed it before someone else did! (Were ther other people like me searching out this cool tool?) I was a happy woman.
Now you may be wondering why I had to have this kitchen tool, since cooking really isn't my favorite thing to do. Here's the story:
I belong to a recentlt formed fiber art critique group. One of the women, Jan, is an avid surface designer and invited us over for a fabric dyeing day. I was introduced to the beauty of soy wax. It is used as a dye resist. The advantage of it over the wax that is traditionally used for batiks, is that it has a much lower melting temperature and therefore can be removed with hot water. So using that spiral whisk, soy wax and thickened dye - this was my resulting fabric
:I am a sucker for spirals. If I see a fabric with swirls, spirals, anything curvy-wurvy, I have to buy some. I applique swirls. I embroider swirls. I quilt with swirls. So you can see why I really needed this tool. I think the possibilities are endless.
And while I was checking out the other potential resist dyeing tools in the housewares section of Bloomingdales, I found this other whisk. Just imagine......

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shopping Websites

Staying along the same theme - shopping for fabric, check out this website. It's an internet fabric shopper's paradise: (Thanks Kelly.)

Also, today I had to make a run to Hayloft Fabrics in Morgantown. Believe it or not I needed some fabric! I asked the ladies if they shipped outside of the U.S., since I had received an e-mail from a Canadian quilter, who told me that she pays $15/meter of fabric. Hayloft does ship to other countries in a flat rate envelope that costs $12.95 US and will hold 6 to 7 yards of fabric. Check my previous post for their website address.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Recharging In Lancaster County, PA

Lancaster County , home to a large population of Amish, is a little more than an hour's drive from my home. I love to drive out there for the scenery, the Amish and THE FABRIC. All 3 of these are important to help me recharge spiritually and creatively.

When you drive out Rte 30W from my home, you come down a long hill and you see a magnificent view of an Amish farm and their patchwork fields. You know you have arrived. It is my friend Nancy's favorite view of all. If you leave Rte 30, which you must, and drive around the back roads, you will see acres and acres of farms, dotted with barns, covered bridges, one room schoolhouses, horse drawn farming equipment and Amish.
If you are unfamiliar with the Amish, they are an amazing people who have chosen to eschew modern conveniences. (I know there has been a lot of bad press latley about the puppy mills. Most of them are not this cruel.) They don't use electricity or drive cars. Most of them make their living from farming. They lead a simple life that includes only an 8th grade education.

I have a very good friend, Ann Davis, who loves the Amish countryside even more than me. She loves Lancaster County so much that she bought a house there to use as a vacation house. (She calls it the Faux Farm.) Ann befriended an Amish family and introduced me to Sadie. Sadie has become my friend. She is in her 70's and we have spent hours sitting, talking and quilting at her quilt frame. (I think she must take out all of my stitches after I leave.) She has a ton of kids and even more grandchildren. The funny thing about Sadie is that she does have a phone (mainly to check her pacemaker). It cracked me up one day when she telephoned my house. "My Amish friend is on the phone!". She will also jump in my car or Ann's car for errands, visiting or just to go get an ice cream. She reads the newspaper and is ready to converse about world events.
Ann is an amateur photographer and gave me permission to share some of her photos. She has a wonderful eye for composing. (Don't think I haven;t thought about using a photo of hers for a quilt.)They really make you feel like you are there. If you want to see more of her artistry , check out her blog:

So the 3rd thing that recharges my battery on this road trip is a visit to the fabric stores. Here is my opinion (and shared by some of my quilting buddies) of the best.
  • My favorite is Hayloft Fabrics ( It is located in Morgantown, right off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It is located upstairs from Martins', a grocery store. They have LOTS of current fabric, batiks, batting, and novelties. Their prices are discounted, plus they will give you a guild discount if you have a membership card. PLUS, when you are done shopping for fabric, you can go downstairs and treat your family to some baked goods like whoopie pies, sticky buns or shoefly pie.

  • If you get back on the turnpike heading west, take the next exit west. Close to the exit in Denver is Sauder's. It is located in the basement of a house. The prices are great and they even have remnants and fabric at $1.79/yd. They have lots of batiks in the $6 price range. They also have a section of bulk food at really great prices - flour, pasta, cereal, candy, snacks and spices.

  • Also in Denver, but quite a ways away, is Burkholders ( I like 2 things about this fabric store. It is a great place to find the "basic" type of fabric - like fossil fern. They have these fabrics in almost every single color there is. The prices are discounted and again they give a guild discount (12%).

If you head to Intercourse on Rte 340, you will find a little village with tons of shops. There's a heritage center with an informative movie about the Amish. There is also a great restaurant called Kling House. And a few quilt shops:

  • Zooks has lots of current fabric at discounted prices. They have some of a lot. But around back is a hitching post for the Amish buggies. Watch where you walk.
  • The Old Country Store ( has fabric, but the reason to enter the store is to see all of the locally made crafts including lots of finished beautiful quilts. Upstairs is the Peoples Place Quilt Museum ( with changing quilt exhibits - free admission.

If you still have some time and energy, keep driving west into the city of Lancaster. The Lancaster Quilt & Textile Museum ( has a large collection of Amish quilts and it is located right near an indoor farmer's market. (The origin of this museum was to house the Esprit quilt collection.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Some of My Favorite Things

My list of favorite things changes over time. I'm actually pretty fickle, but I am definitely NOT a gadget person. Lots of times it involves rediscovering/repurposing.

1. Rick Rack - I am working on a Chanukah tabletopper for the holiday edition of McCall's Quick Quilts. At this time I cannot share it with you, BUT I wanted to show you a sneak peek of the border. The concept of the magazine is for quick/fast/easy projects. I used green rick rack in the border and boy do you really get a lot of bang for your buck - visually, timewise and financially.

2. Temporary Spray Adhesive - I have had this on my shelf for quite a while and never used it. Now I have found that I can use it to embroider towels without having the HUGE struggle of hooping all that thick terrycloth. I put 2 layers of stabilizer in the hoop. Spray it and then lay the towel to be embroidered on top. The towel actually stays in place. How nice to be done with that struggle.

Another use for the temporary spray adhesive is for printing on fabric. I use it to print on pieces of fabric smaller than 8 1/2 x 11". I either spray the wrong side of the fabric or after backing the fabric with a paper-backed fusible web, spray that and then adhere it to regular computer paper. Smooth it down really well and then put it through the printer.

One more favorite use involves my #1. To keep the rick rack in place before stitching it to the border, I sprayed one side and positioned it in place. This prevents any distortion that may arise by using pins to keep it in place.

3. Parchment Paper - I was working on another project where I had to pre-assemble a fusible applique. I loved using parchment paper, because I could draw placement lines with pencil right on it. After assembling and fusing the design, I could remove the applique from the parchment and then reuse it with the placement lines. I did this 10 times.

Keep tuned to see more favorite things.