Monday, November 23, 2009

Thread Heaven

After I was finished at Mary Jo's, I drove through 22 stoplights to Long Creek Mills. That is how they describe getting from Mary Jo's to Long Creek Mills. I thought I had gone to far. Surely I had gone through that many stoplights and more. Never saw the street. So I turned around then decided that maybe I was on track to begin with. We didn't bring our GPS unit with us this trip because Taylor had it. This store is just like Mary Jo's, a little bit nondescript. I drove by it and thought, this is insane. I've spent enough time and money I should just go back to the hotel and pick up Jeff. Well, I turned around and finally found the store. Once again, I was overwhelmed at the inventory that was packed into that little store. How hard can buying thread be? I was there over 30 minutes and literally racing thru the isles trying to get out in a decent span of time. Prices were very reasonable. I think the embroidery thread was running about $1.75 for a 1000 yd spool. I came out of Long Creek with over a $100 worth of thread and stabilizers. At least with Long Creek, I'll be able to order online. My goal was to purchase different products to try at home then I would know what to order in the future.

Oh Yeah, I've Died and Gone to Fabric Heaven

It's quite unbelievable that with all the trips to North Carolina that I've never stepped foot into Mary Jo's. With the recent trip, that was now my priority. Luckily, my husband was agreeable. It helps that he's so busy with work and stayed at the hotel to be on his laptop. We needed to check out of the hotel at noon. I knew that I would be limited with time. I was going to go to Mary Jo's and Long Creek Mills which is pretty much across town in Gastonia, NC. Check out time was approaching and Jeff had brought the luggage downstairs and started to work in the hotel lobby. The front desk lady started to talk to Jeff. The conversation went like this:
Lady: You know, your wife left here before 9:00.
Jeff: Yes, I know.
Lady: Where did she go?
Jeff: She went to the fabric store.
Lady: Did she go to Mary Jo's?
Jeff: Yes she did.
Lady: You know, some women never return when they go to Mary Jo's.
Jeff: Great.

Have you ever had butterflies in your stomach because you knew that the adventure would be fantastic. Well, I got up early to make sure that I would get to Mary Jo's early. The parking lot already had lots of cars in it. As you can see, the place isn't upscale. This is one way I'm sure that helps to keep her prices low. When I walked in and saw the expanse of the store, I decided to spend time casing the joint. I spent about 20-30 minutes walking thru the store and developing my plan of attack. I didn't bring any information on my home dec needs so the home dec department was out. I can tell you that the home dec fabric takes up about half of the store. The fabric of course is just beautiful. Lot's of shoppers in this department.

I decided to concentrate on lace. I was looking for heirloom laces and bridal laces. I came away with lots of heirloom laces but no bridal lace. I was very specific about what I wanted. I needed a 3-6 inch flounce of schiffli lace for bridal garters. I've made so many garters over the years that my bridal stash is severely limited. As you can see, there was certainly tons of lace, just not what I was looking for. I think I spent an hour in the heirloom lace dept deciding on the laces and having them cut. Look at the rows of rick rack that was in the trim department. I've never seen such choices before. I wanted to buy some but needed to spend my time (and money) elsewhere.

I think the two biggest draws to Mary Jo's is the home dec fabric and the bridal fabric. I can see why. Both departments were quite busy. There were several brides shopping. It was very hard not to touch all that beautiful lace. You just don't see the quality of alencon lace around here. Well, pretty much you don't see this lace in any store where I live. The prices for the beaded alencon lace ran up to $165.00/yard I think. Not too bad.

Next stop was the cotton department. I held strong and didn't buy any quilting fabrics. Mary Jo's has the best prices around on quilting fabrics. She also carries all the big names. What I usually pay is about $9.50/yard. At Mary Jo's, $6.49/yard. Believe me, it was hard to turn that down. I ended up with three pieces of very soft cottons for heirloom sewing. One is an Imperial Batiste which I can get around here but once again, the price was right. The other two pieces were sweet little girl prints. Hopefully someday I'll have a granddaughter that will have a dress out of this fabric. The store does an excellent job of organizing the fabrics. Batiks were all together, reds, blues, beige, etc all together. She even had polka dots together.

When I tell people that I spent two hours at Mary Jo's they can't believe that is all the time that I was there. Believe me, on my next visit I'll try to schedule more time. I can't wait to go back to Mary Jo's. For anyone that is interested, she does have a website, Her website isn't like others because she can't possibly show all the fabrics, trims and notions. You can call the store and place an order over the phone. Now, onward to Long Creek Mills.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

North Carolina

North Carolina is one of my favorite places to visit. I probably say that about a lot of places that I've been to. We try to get down to North Carolina every 2-3 years. I think we went about 4 years since our last visit. I love to visit the Biltmore mansion in Asheville. Our time was short so we weren't able to visit the Biltmore this time through. The architecture is stupendous. When I roam the mansion, I can envision all the Victorian ladies coming to the mansion for parties.

We were lucky to be there for fall colors. The mountains were beautiful. We spent a couple of nights over near Charlotte and decided to spend an afternoon on the University of North Carolina-Charlotte campus. On an earlier visit, I took Taylor and Whitney here while Jeff was in meetings. I thought that Jeff might like to hike thru the gardens. There are several greenhouses next to the 10 acre gardens. The greenhouses are divided up naturally with orchids, desert plants, etc.

Baby Things

These are just a couple of little things that I did for co-workers as thank you's. This was the first onsie dress that I've made. I really should have cut the skirt fabric on the bias but what can I say, it was past my bedtime and I wanted to bring it to work the following morning. I loved the little snow girl design. The snow girl design came from I think that "A" applique also came from there. The font for Addison is from I haven't been to work for a few days so I don't know if the onsie fits or not. I rushed around the house that morning so I could press the items. I didn't have time to take pictures so I threw my camera in my bag and took the pictures once I got to work. It really was a waste of my time to iron the little things because I threw them into a plastic bag . Not very smart on my part.

Eastern Minnesota

This year Jeff and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. He told me to do some research and figure out where we should spend our anniversary. He was quite surprised and somewhat dismayed when I told him I wanted to go to Minnesota. After all, he's a die hard Badger fan. Several years ago, I drove up to Duluth for the Minnesota Quilt Symposium and was overwhelmed at the beauty of the area. I really wanted him to see it with me.

Because we decided to take a trip on a somewhat short notice (about 2 weeks) I had some difficulty finding a place to stay. I got super lucky and was able to get a room at the Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay, population of about 300 people. One of the great things about this lodge is that every room faces Lake Superior. They also served a Swedish breakfast each morning. This lodge was wonderful and in a perfect location. It was located right on the shores of Lake Superior and the Gitchi Gami bike trail went right through the hotel property. Our goal was to go somewhere where we could hike and bike. This fit the bill. The scenery was unbelievable. The biking was a little bit challenging. The trails were paved which was really nice but the hills took the wind out of my sails a little bit. I think we hiked in 5 different state parks along the lake.

I'm lucky that I have taken some fantastic trips. The eastern shores of Minnesota ranks really high on that list. I've can't say that I've ever seen so many wild flowers anywhere else. We had rain a couple of days and that made the forest alive with color. I can't decide which waterfall was my favorite, there were so many.