The Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest — Day 1: Back Porch Quilts in Livingston MT

Any time the alarm rings at stupid-o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, there’d better be a darn good reason. And there was. It was Day 1 of the Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest. Showered, dressed, the van packed, and we were on the road by six.

It was a lovely morning for driving, cool and pleasant with just enough overcast to stop the sun’s glare as we headed east from Spokane.

There was still snow in the mountains of northern Idaho. In late April.

On the Road in Northern Idaho

By lunchtime, we were approaching our first stop, Back Porch Quilts in Livingston MT.

MyQSN shows us exactly how to find Back Porch Quilts

See that blue star? The Quilt Shop Navigator showed us exactly where to find Back Porch Quilts.

Back Porch Quilts - Livingston MT

When Lori complained to her husband Kemp that there wasn’t a quilt shop in Livingston and she had to drive all the way to Bozeman to find fabric, he asked her how old she’d be in ten years. Then he asked her how old she’d be in ten years if she started a quilt shop. He volunteered to build the shelves for the shop’s many bolts of fabric. He even suggested the name for the shop. That was eight and a half years ago, and Back Porch Quilts is going strong.

Fabrics and Notions at Back Porch Quilts

Lori loves batiks, and Back Porch Quilts’ fabric selection reflects that love. The samples hanging on the walls at Back Porch Quilts showcase not only batiks, but also the western and wildlife prints that she stocks in abundance. There was a particularly handsome cowboy:

Cowboy Quilt in Batiks - Back Porch Quilts

And the current block of the month:

Lori Shows a Customer Back Porch Quilt's Block of the Month quilt blocks

While I was chatting with Lori, Frank wandered around the shop taking pictures. He made the acquaintance of Marian, who found the perfect fabric to coordinate with a panel and, as a bonus, a new pattern. He snapped this picture of her with her finds:

Back Porch Quilts Customer Marian finds the perfect fabric

You meet the nicest people in quilt shops!

A group of shop hoppers — the Big Sky Shop Hop was in full swing — came in while we were there.

Shop Hoppers line up to purchase Back Porch Quilt's block

One of them was accompanied by a pair of little dogs. They must have been regular quilt shopping buddies, because they had shop etiquette down pat.

Even Dogs Like Back Porch Quilts

Sometimes, you meet the nicest dogs, too.

Lori also showed us nifty flower makers and some of the amazing variety of flowers they produce:

These nifty flower makers are very popular with Back Porch Quilts customers

Things to know about Back Porch Quilts and Livingston MT:


Facebook: Back Porch Quilts

Things to see and do in Livingston:

Livingston Depot Center
The Northern Pacific Railroad Depot in downtown Livingston has always been the center of the community. Built by the railroad in 1902, it served as a stopping point for tourists heading to Yellowstone National Park. Now the grand old depot has taken on a new life as a museum and community cultural center.

Yellowstone Gateway Museum
One of the most impressive collections of local and state historical artifacts, documents and memorabilia in Montana is on display. The museum features themes from the old School House, a Pioneer cabin, Railroad Room, Yellowstone National Park items and the Native Culture Room featuring the Anzick site.

Where to eat lunch: Lori suggested Homemade Kitchen (206 S 11th St # 5) and their tasty homemade soups and sandwiches, but they’re not open on weekends. We found The Other Cafe (1014 W Park St) nearby. It’s a quirky place run by a spunky lady named Patty. They only serve breakfast on weekends, but they serve it all day and their pancakes are fantastic!

The Other Cafe Livingston MT

Full of pancakes and fond memories of new-found friends, we were ready to get back on the road.

Next time: Bernina Sewing Center in Billings MT

Quilt Shops · Travel

Announcing the Great Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest

Carry Me Back to Old Virginny

Family business (and a little family fun, too) is calling us back to Virginia, where we lived for 20 years. Early Saturday morning, we’ll be leaving Spokane for a four day drive across the USA.

The ‘we’ above includes Frank, my hat-wearing, Japanese-monster-movie-loving, woodworking, quality guru husband of forty years. He’s the kind of guy who – true story – drove over 500 miles around central Washington state in a single day so that I could visit the thirteen quilt shops in a shop hop. And he’s threatened to write a book entitled Quilt Shop Restrooms Across the Country – A Guide for Husbands.


And, of course, The Quilt Shop Navigator will be coming along for the ride. “Thar be quilt shops out there!” and there’s no better way to find them.


So come along with us! We’ll see the sights, meet fascinating people and  explore quilt shops. And there’ll surely be some surprises, too.

Events · Quilt Shows

Quilters on the Loose in the Palouse

Robin, Sandy, Cindy and me ready to seek out quilting inspiration, fun, and fabric.

What induces four intrepid quilters to pile into a sleek minivan on a rainy spring day and drive through the wilds of Idaho and the rolling wheat fields of Washington for a couple of hours? A quilt show, of course!

This weekend, The Palouse Patchers held their 33rd annual quilt show, “Lattice Fantasy”. The Palouse Patchers guild has about 175 members in northern Idaho and eastern Washington. They’ve been quilting together since the late 70’s and have members all over the rolling farmland surrounding the Palouse River and in and around the university towns of Pullman WA and Moscow ID.  But I’m getting ahead of the story. First I must introduce my companions:

Robin is a talented designer of quilts and published author of quilt patterns. (More on that in a minute.) She is also my neighbor. Not long after we moved to Spokane seven years ago, I ordered fabric from an online shop. A few days later, there were two squishy packages from that shop in my mailbox. Excitedly, I tore the first one open – the fabric was beautiful, but it wasn’t the fabric I ordered! Belatedly, I looked at the address on the envelope and found that it was addressed to the house next door. So I wrote a little note of apology on the most cheerful notecard in my desk and carried the mangled package next door, where I was greeted by Robin’s puzzled daughter and the largest dog I’d ever seen. (Robin wasn’t home at the time.) A while later, Robin showed up on my doorstep and we’ve been friends and quilting buddies ever since.

Sandy is Robin’s friend and co-conspirator. She is a paragon of precision piecing and all-around good woman. Here’s Sandy and Robin holding the quilt Robin designed for the latest issue of Quiltmaker magazine. The two of them assembled that top in a furious weekend of commando quilting to meet the publishing deadline. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Robin and Sandy Quiltmaker quilt

In the real world, Cindy is an attorney. She recently retired after serving 24 years on the local school board. She has a love of fabric that rivals mine and a quirky sense of humor that keeps us all in stitches.

These three wonderful women – and a few more who couldn’t join us on this trip – reared their children together, worked with on PTA committees and led scout troops together, and have laughed and loved and supported each other for several decades now. I’m honored and delighted that they’ve extended their circle and include me in their adventures.

Meanwhile, back at the Latah County Fairgrounds, the quilt show was in full swing.

Robin took picture after picture. This quilt may well inspire our group to exchange charm squares of floral fabrics later this year.

Robin Finds Inspiration

Cindy brought along her latest quilt top, looking for the perfect backing. At one of the vendors, she found a darling floral flannel that echoed the pastels of the top and will make this baby quilt extra cuddly. Believe me, the photo doesn’t do it justice.

Cindy Brought Along Her Latest Top, Looking for Backing

Sandy was intrigued by an amazing applique quilt. We all spent quite a while admiring its perfect palette and beautiful workmanship. The scalloped border of each applique square was done in reverse applique. Does anyone recall who made this? I’d love to give them credit on this blog.

Sandy Admires Amazing Applique

This quilt, called Hyde Park and made by Jackie Greenwalt, was my favorite in the show. I love the subtle way each monkey wrench block is framed by the alternate blocks.

Hyde Park by Jackie Greenwalt

And, of course, we all flocked around to see a demonstration of the latest gadgets. This one was a new twist on a seam ripper.

Demonstrating a new gadget

The Quilt Show featured two small art quilt challenges, one in honor of a guild member who passed away from cancer and another themed around earth, air, water and fire. I was particularly drawn to one quilt in the member challenge display, drew closer to inspect it and discovered that it, too, was made by Jackie Greenwalt. (Jackie, I want to get to know you. You make incredible quilts.)

Dancing Dandelion by Jackie Greenwalt

By the time we’d inspected and delighted in the dozens of quilts on display and investigated all the vendors’ booths, we were ready for a bit of rest and refreshment, and discovered coffee, punch and cookies thoughtfully provided by the Palouse Patchers. Then, digging into our show goodie bags, we found discount coupons for several local quilt shops. What self-respecting quilter could resist 15% off your total purchase? So off we went in search of more food, fun, and fabric.

Lunch was at Stax, a marvelous soup and sandwich shop just across the street from the University of Idaho campus. The sandwiches were huge – my Holiday was stuffed with sliced turkey, cranberry cream cheese, and veggies – and the cream of crab and asparagus soup was smooth and flavorful and brimming with chunks of asparagus and bits of real crab.

Cindy at Stax -- Lunch

Since we’d driven down to Moscow through Idaho, we thought we’d take our homeward leg through the Washington Palouse region. As we drove through the town of Colfax, there it was:

Palouse River Quilts in Colfax WAA brand spanking new quilt shop, Palouse River Quilts, just barely opened in Colfax WA! Of course we had to stop. That’s what intrepid wandering quilters do. We brake for fabric!

We Found A New Quilt Shop on the Way Home -- Owner Patricia Arnold Cuts My Fabric

Shop owners, Patricia and Margo, were friendly and fun to talk to. That’s Patricia, above, cutting the incredible ombre fabric that begged to go home with me.

Sandy Finds Fabric

Sandy found some lovely batiks.

Best of all, Palouse River Quilts is already listed on the Premium Version of The Quilt Shop Navigator mobile website!

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures with The Quilt Shop Navigator


Introducing Lynnie

MLEH head shot chopped

Hi! I’m Lynnie. In a former life, I was a physicist, but now I’m a professional grandmother and a wandering quilter.

As a quilter I’m a bit of a dabbler. I like trying different techniques and different styles of quilting projects, whether they’re time-honored traditions or something new and amazing.

So come along with me and we’ll explore quilt shops and quilt shows, meet fascinating quilters and discover quilting surprises, all with the help of The Quilt Shop Navigator.

The Quilt Shop Navigator -- Always Ready to Roll