Saturday, November 07, 2009

What's 4 x 12? Wonderful Fun!

I have had the BEST two days! There is nothing like sharing quilting with wonderful friends and I am still smiling and feeling inspired and happy.

The excitement started on Thursday, when I drove over to Berkeley and found our lovely Helen and her husband Dennis, who are on the first leg of an around-the-world adventure. How lucky for me they started in San Francisco! Helen -- organized planner that she is -- had found a music shop/book shop/cafe for us to meet in, and we had lunch and stumbled over the first funny awkwardness of meeting for the first time while feeling that we know each other so well from our blogs and 12x12 challenge exploits together! We had a lovely lunch (roasted eggplant, red peppers, and melty cheese on focaccia, if you must know) and then Helen and I left Dennis to putter among the books and CDs and we headed off for a quilt shop tour.

Our first stop was Stone Mountain and Daughter, right in the heart of Berkeley. I'd not been there for ages and was happy to see that they had more quilting fabric than the last time I'd been in. We immediately found fabric that called out to us. Helen disclosed her plan to purchase fabric while in the US for a souvenir quilt, so she hunted for her focus fabric and we kept giggling over how often one of us would pull out a bolt and the other would say "I just pulled that very one out!" or how often Helen would choose a fabric and I'd say, "I bought a piece of that recently!" Helen managed to find several small (ahem) pieces for the beginning of her California Collection, I'm glad to report.

From there we went to New Pieces, and had no problem whatsoever finding more for her collection (and yes, I do believe I found three half-yards I couldn't resist...) Then, I treated Helen to a real, live experience in California Rush Hour Freeway Traffic as we crossed over the hill to Lafayette to visit The Cotton Patch* (*as seen on Ricky Tims' and Alex Anderson's The Quilt Show, to Helen's delight). Isn't it funny, when you have out of town friends visiting and encounter traffic? I felt personally responsible and kept apologizing (I did sort of forget about the likely timing of our excursion, in all of my excitement to plan a personal shop hop) and Helen kept laughing and said it felt just like home.

From there (after purchasing just a TINY big more fabric), we returned to Berkeley, retrieved Dennis who'd been sitting and chatting with a local fellow talking American politics, and headed off to dinner at a restaurant at the Berkeley marina, which gave us beautiful views across the bay to the San Francisco skyline.

Dinner was relaxing and delicious, and then we headed back to my house where we all went straight to our beds to dream of fabrics and quilts. (I'm sure Dennis was dreaming of them too, as we kept talking about them and he just couldn't escape...)

With Helen's advance permission, for Friday I'd planned a quilty lunch with a wonderful bunch of friends. Helen and Dennis accompanied me into town while I picked up the last lunch supplies (enjoying an American supermarket, good ol' Safeway.... Helen said, "You have more quilting magazines in your grocery store than we have in our quilt shops!"). Unbeknownst to Helen, a big surprise was in store -- she knew that friends would be coming, but she did NOT know that two intrepid traveling 12x12 compatriots had arranged to come and surprise her at the lunch! The first guest to arrive was Karen, all the way from Southern California. I was so happy to see Karen, and I was rather pleased to see how teary-eyed and happy Helen was to meet her.

Next thing you know, the room was full of laughing, smiling women ... and then the doorbell rang and Surprise Guest #2 arrived, Gerrie, having driven from Portland with her husband for a wine country weekend! I saw Helen gasp and get teary-eyed all over again when she spotted Gerrie at the door. So I felt like a devious but successful hostess.

We had a wonderful afternoon. My buddies have followed the 12x12 exploits and many read Helen's blog regularly, so there was a lot to talk about and Helen mixed in beautifully. We talked, and laughed, and ate, and talked, and laughed, then had a grand "show and tell" mid afternoon. That was total fun and pure inspiration. A highlight of the afternoon was that the four of us "Twelves" showed our collection of challenge quilts together, and it was SO wonderful to see them in person and to have a batch of them together. And cupcakes from the local bakery were the perfect reward after show and tell!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Pat M, Janet, Pam, Sandy, Rita, Eleanor, Pat D, Maureen, Delaine, Ancella, Gerrie, and Karen for coming and bringing show and tell and giving such a warm and friendly welcome to Helen. I could gush and gush about how lucky I feel to count you all among my friends.

After all of that excitement and inspiration, when everyone had gone and the house was quiet, Helen remarked that we still had time to get to my local fabric shop, Fabrications ... so off we went! We popped into two bookshops (for Dennis, ostensibly, but we enjoyed it too) and in Fabrications Helen was enticed by several locally dyed pieces of fabric art.

We got home in time to enjoy guacamole, chips, comforting beverages, and a steak dinner which Roger, wonderful husband, prepared.

A totally perfect day.

Today, Helen, Dennis and I met up with Gerrie and her husband Steve for a quick breakfast before Helen and Dennis headed off to their next adventure (with fabric shops along the way, I'm sure.)

So now it is back to real life in our house, and I am missing Helen and Dennis -- as is our lab Gemma who became instantly smitten with Dennis and has done a bit of pacing around the house looking for him this afternoon.

Okay... dinner and early bed for me -- all that fun was tiring!


  1. I am so glad that you enjoyed the past two or three days so much. It was wonderful.

  2. Your excitement bubbles through your writing! I so wish I could have been there too. I suggested that Helen and Dennis stop in Hawaii, but alas, their plans include other islands in the Pacific.

  3. Hi Diane

    Now I can say we are separated by one degree! I was privileged to host Helen in Wellington in November when she stopped there as part of the NZ leg of her journey. We had Catherine with us. Catherine is doing the same online embroidery course that Helen is doing. We had a fab, visiting Minerva Bookshop, a specialty textile and quilting bookshop, some quilty places and a the studio of Dianna Parkes who dyes silk fabric and makes art with it. Who knew the world was so small!

    PS just catching up on some very overdue blog reading.