After lunch in Tipton, we crossed the Mississippi River on our way to our next stop, The Village Smithy in Bishop Hills IL.
See the blue star in the map above? The Quilt Shop Navigator told us that was the location of The Village Smithy. When we got there, we found The Colony Carpentry Shop instead. The Village Smithy is actually a couple of blocks further up the street, between Helena and Bergland Streets. What?!?!? The Quilt Shop Navigator made a mistake?!?!?!? Well, yes and no. The Quilt Shop Navigator uses GPS mapping and browser locator signals to pinpoint your location and the locations of the quilt shops in our data base. In this case, the GPS mapping data is in error. For what it’s worth, when I checked with Google Maps, they placed The Village Smithy about half a mile south of town, in the midst of a corn field.
Mapquest did well and located The Village Smithy right on the money. So The Quilt Shop Navigator is, in this case, better than Google but not quite as good as Mapquest.
This is not an uncommon problem. Here’s a map showing some store locations in New York City (the green pins) and where GPS location mapping said people were (the blue pins) when they were in the stores.
And here’s what Mozilla/Firefox has to say about the accuracy of its browser locator signals:
Accuracy varies greatly from location to location. In some places, our service providers may be able to provide a location to within a few meters. However, in other areas it might be much more than that. All locations returned by our service providers are estimates only and we do not guarantee the accuracy of the locations provided. Please do not use this information for emergencies. Always use common sense.
So the moral of this story is that you may have to look around a bit once you have “arrived at your destination”. In our case, we asked a fellow who was mowing the lawn at a nearby sandwich shop and he said, “Oh, you mean Marilyn’s shop! It’s just down the street a couple of blocks on the right!. You’ll like Marilyn. She’s a great lady.”
A couple of blocks down the street, there was The Village Smithy.
And inside we found Marilyn, who is indeed a great lady.
Marilyn grew up near Bishop Hill. Her mom and grandma were quilters and she just naturally got involved in the process. She had a beauty shop for many years, but wanted a new adventure so, since she loved quilting and making things, she and her husband started The Village Smithy over 20 years ago, with 20 bolts of fabric and a stock of handmade crafts. There are still handmade crafts in the store, but there are now hundreds of lovely fabrics – homespun, calico, reproductions, and more – along with notions, thread, and machine and hand quilting supplies.
Everywhere you look at The Village Smithy, you’ll see something intriguing.
I loved the red and white checked pieces in the picture below. The scalloped border and the basket embroidery on the wall hanging are spectacular up close.
Marilyn said she just likes making things. “I quilt at home every day.” She posed holding a little sample quilt she’d made from the scraps from another project. Doesn’t she have a lovely smile?
The Village Smithy also offers quilting classes. Marilyn loves to encourage other quilters and share what she’s learned along the way.
Another wonderful feature of The Village Smithy is Sheri, the longarm quilter in residence.
Here’s a closeup of her work. Those are fantastic feathers!
One of Marilyn’s favorite stories about The Village Smithy concerns an antique quilt frame that she had in the front of the store during its early days. There was always a work in progress on the frame, and her mom and aunts and sisters and friends from the community would gather around it to quilt the afternoon away. She has a photo of her mother, aunts, and sisters working on a quilt her mother had pieced. When the quilt was done, though, she sold it. Now she wishes she had it back again as a reminder of her quilting family. She’s piecing another top from blocks her mother cut years ago right now, and thinking of putting the old quilt frame back up in the shop. If you’re lucky, perhaps you can sit down to add a few stitches to it when you drop in.
Things to Know About The Village Smithy and Bishop Hill IL:
What to see and do: In 1846, a group of Swedish immigrants seeking religious freedom left their native land under the guidance of their charismatic spiritual leader, Erik Jansson. The site for their new utopia, later called Bishop Hill, was described to them as a “land of plenty, brimming with milk and honey,” and they struggled to make it so. These Janssonists built a successful communal society based on economic and religious principles. Many of the structures erected during this building campaign still exist. The colony grew and flourished for fifteen years before disbanding in 1861. Today Bishop Hill is a quiet country village where the charm and character of the original colony have survived the test of time. Bishop Hill is a National Landmark Village, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and it is an Illinois State Historic Site. The town is full of quaint shops, galleries, and historic buildings.
There is a busy calendar of events happening in the town, including a quilt show sponsored by the Prairie Queen Quilt Club and the Bishop Hill Arts Council coming up May 17-19. Marilyn also recommends that you shouldn’t miss Midsommar Music Festival on June 22.
Where to eat lunch: Marilyn suggests Colony Eatery and Bakery (103 Bishop Hill Rd), with homemade soup and sandwiches and, of course, luscious baked goods. The Filling Station (303 Bishop Hill Rd), just a few doors down from her shop serves burgers with all the fixings. For a more elegant repast, try PL Johnson’s Restaurant (110 W Bjorkland St).
Stay tuned for Day 3’s last stop: Peddler’s Way in Washington IL.