Fort Collins Trip 2014

Dave and I drove to Fort Collins last week ostensibly to attend his niece’s high school graduation. But we turned it into a much-needed mini vacation for us. We were there for almost three days and it went by so fast.

The first day I was so lucky that I got to go fabric shopping at Mama Said Sew. In fact, that just happened to be our first stop when we got into town. That store is fabulous. It’s the only store I’ve ever been to that has fabric by Suzuko Koseki. I’ve always had to order it online, so that was a rare treat. Angela, the owner was super nice. And when I told her I was meeting my online quilting pen pal for lunch for the first time (whom she happened to know because they’re in the local Modern Quilt Guild together), she recommended a couple places to meet for lunch.

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After fabric shopping I got to meet my pen pal Jennifer in person. We have been writing to each other for four years. We found each other through Jen at Indie Fixx back when she started the Pen Pal Project in 2010 and asked if people wanted pen pals. Jennifer and I had very similar interests, so we started writing each other. We did a doll quilt swap last year. I never thought we’d meet but when this trip came up, it just seemed fortuitous because she lives in Cheyenne which is only an hour away from Fort Collins.

Jennifer

It was so fun meeting Jennifer. She was just as I imagined she would be. She cracked me up with stories of her husband who is an air force colonel. She even kept Dave amused. It turns out her husband and Dave share an interest in watching TV shows about Sasquatch, flying planes and shooting guns. We were having such a great time talking and catching up that we stayed in the restaurant past closing time and they practically had to kick us out. It was really hard for us to say goodbye. I can’t wait to come back again soon so we can meet up again. Next time we’ll have to meet in Cheyenne.

We didn’t get to spend a lot of time doing as much stuff as we would have liked because we did come to Fort Collins for Dave’s niece’s graduation after all. We also had to go to the graduation party and spend time with Dave’s sister’s family. It was funny seeing his niece Ava all grown up and graduated, ready to go off to college. She was the cute, little flower girl at our wedding 10 years ago.

AvaAlexaDave’s nieces Alexa and Ava (the graduate)

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We did find time to take a tour at New Belgium Brewery which was great, and I’m not even a drinker. It’s definitely a fun place to work. I could tell everyone there really enjoys their jobs. When you work there for a year, you get a specially designed New Belgium bike. After five years, you get a free trip to Belgium. After ten years you get a month off from work, plus a share in the company. Dave was trying to figure out how he could get a job there. The tour was really interesting and they weren’t stingy with their beer samples, either. Dave got six good-sized samples of their different beers, plus a free can of Fat Tire beer for helping to pour beer during the tour.

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We also drove down to Denver our last day because I begged Dave, even though he didn’t want to do a lot of driving around during this trip. I really wanted to stop at Fancy Tiger Crafts. I’ve always wanted to shop here and never dreamed that I would, and we were so close. What’s an hour of driving time, right? I kept dangling the flagship REI store there to entice him. It was a win-win for both of us.

Fancy Tiger was great but I was hoping they would have more Japanese fabrics than what they had. An employee said they would be getting more soon. I did find a few cute Japanese prints I hadn’t seen before, so it was worth the trip. And they had more Liberty of London fabrics than I’ve ever seen at any other fabric store. The store was really cool and I liked the fun vibe of the store. If I lived in Denver, I’d love to work there. They also had lots of yarn and patterns. There seemed to be something for everyone.

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We liked Denver but we didn’t get to spend much time there. We only spent four-and-a-half hours there because we had to get back to Fort Collins to go to church and then go to the graduation ceremony. We’d like to come back again when we have more time to spend there. We’re thinking of coming back next summer when the USA Pro Cycling Challenge goes through there. The weather will be better then, too. It was a little rainy during our trip.

Colorado is still one of our favorite places to visit and if we could manage it, we’d move there in a heartbeat. Their winters are milder and there’s no humidity. After the long winter we had, I’m ready to move anywhere where there’s no winter or where it doesn’t drag on forever. And I’m kind of getting tired of our humid summers. But I’ll tell you one thing Des Moines has over Fort Collins: great Asian restaurants. We couldn’t find any good sushi or Chinese restaurants while we were there. The one Chinese restaurant we ate at had us sorely missing Cafe Su. Dave’s sister said we probably weren’t going to find anything like that there. I guess you have to go to Boulder or Denver for that.

It was still a fun trip, but next time we’ll go just for ourselves when we can just relax and travel at our own pace. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you have to rush around and always have to be somewhere at a certain time.

Welcome to Des Moines, Stitch!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a great new fabric and yarn shop in Des Moines called Stitch. That’s very exciting news, my friends. Des Moines has been ripe for a modern fabric shop for a long time and I couldn’t be happier. It’s located in the East Village on East 5th Street. I think it’s the perfect location.

I stopped by over the weekend and fell in love with the store. The whole look and vibe of the store is very fun and modern. It carries such fabrics as Leah Duncan’s Tule line, Heather Ross’ Briar Rose and some lovely prints by Anna Maria Horner; all fabrics you’d otherwise have to purchase online. I’m so happy that I don’t have to drive all the way to Iowa City anymore to buy quality modern fabrics I love. (But you know me, I still will.)

092113_0007WI was delighted to discover that I had already met the one of the owners (Tami Stroh) and her daughter before. They had purchased a tissue cozy from me at an East Village crafts show a year or two ago. Tami shares my love of cute Japanese fabrics. She said she may be getting some Nani Iro fabric in the shop sometime. I can’t wait!

092113_0022WTami Stroh, one of the co-owners of Stitch

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Sewing machines that you can rent per hour for sewing projects

092113_0019WIn addition to fabric, Stitch also carries yarn, knitting needles, books and sewing patterns. I haven’t knitted in years, but with all the yummy yarns they have, I just may have to take it up again.

While I was there, Tami asked me if I would be interested in teaching sewing classes at the store. Of course I couldn’t say no. I was so flattered and happy that she asked me. Her store is so awesome. I think this could be Des Moines’ version of Purl Soho. I hope it’s a huge success. Please spread the word and tell everyone you know about it.

My Fabric Shop Fantasy

I always tell my husband that if we won a ton of money in the lottery (I’m talking set-for-life kind of money here), I would open up a modern fabric shop. I’d carry the latest trendy, modern fabrics by the most popular designers. Denyse Schmidt, Anna Maria Horner, Liberty of London, Kokka, Lecien and Echino are just a small sampling of the designer fabrics I would carry. These are all fabrics that can’t be found here in Des Moines, where I live. *Sigh.* I end up buying a lot of fabrics online because I can’t find them locally.

Flea Market Fancy from Denyse Schmidt Quilts

I wouldn’t carry any of the typical quilting fabrics that you could find at most quilt shops because people could buy those at the other two quilts shops in town. I wouldn’t want to take away any of their business. I think there’s plenty of business in this town to go around. My shop would definitely be a fun fabrics shop. I would model it after some of my favorites: Home Ec. Workshop, Bon Bon Atelier, Crafty Planet, Stitch Lab and Quiltology.

I would also offer fantastic sewing, quilting and embroidery classes—catered toward younger sewers—that taught the latest modern sewing and quilting techniques. There would be finished samples galore hanging throughout the store to give customers ideas and inspiration. And, of course, I’d have to have all of those cool sewing patterns by Sew Liberated, Heather Bailey, Denyse Schmidt and Penguin & Fish that I seem to only be able to find online or in other shops when I travel to larger cities.

Some of my favorite sewing patterns

I wouldn’t open this store expecting to make a lot of money; although it would be great if it did end up being very profitable. I know that owning a business is a lot of hard work. And most new businesses don’t see any real profit during the first few years. It can be tough to keep a small business going, especially in this current economy. Which is why I would only do this if I never had to worry about money again. Having this shop would just be my fun dream job. A place where I could go to escape the daily stress of life and sew or quilt all day long. And be around other fabric addicts lovers. I mean, what’s more fun than being in a fabulous fabric store? I can’t think of anything better. You know what I’m talking about, right? I know you do.

I can see it all very clearly. I’d have a large room in the back for classes, retreats and sew-ins. I’d even invite our Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild to have its monthly meetings here. It would be sew much fun (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!). I even know where I would open the shop. Close to Des Moines, in a very small suburb called Windsor Heights, there’s a newish building on University Avenue that’s for lease and doesn’t have any shops in it yet. It’s been vacant for a while. Every time I drive by it, I can’t help but think, “That would be an awesome location for a fabric shop!” There are lots of floor-to-ceiling windows and ample parking. It’s even close to Interstate 235, so travelers from other cities could get to it easily. See, I’ve thought of everything.

Gosh, I guess I’d better go buy a lottery ticket, huh? Is there some type of venture, creative or otherwise, that you would pursue if money were no object? Tell me, I’d love to know.