The Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest — Homeward Bound, Part 4: Birds of a Feather in Westlake OH

Map Birds of a Featherstorefront 115Birds of a Feather SignIt is a truth universally acknowledged that you meet the very nicest people in quilt shops. Sometimes, though, you don’t actually meet them; you merely get to chat with them on the phone. When I called to make an appointment to stop by Birds of a Feather in Westlake OH, I learned that while the shop would be open late that evening, the owner Elizabeth had another commitment and would not be there. She cheerfully agreed to tell me about Birds of a Feather over the phone and promised that her employee Rachel would be there to greet us and let us take pictures.

Elizabeth learned to sew in 4-H. She decided to make a baby quilt when she was expecting her first child. When that one was finished, she made another. And then another. And then before she knew it, she was a quilter. About ten years ago, she was looking for something to fill up her retirement and Birds of a Feather was born.

Fabric flocks together at Birds of a Feather.

Fabric on Display at Birds of a Feather

Fabric and patterns and notions.

More Fabric at Birds of a Feather

Quilts flock together there, too.

More Samples at Birds of a Feather

Jelly roll quilts.

Jelly Roll Quilt at Birds of a Feather

Applique samplers.

Modern Applique Sampler

And banners.

Banners at Birds of a Feather

And purses and totes.

Purses and Totes at Birds of a Feather

And quilters flock there, too, for their regular Open Sewing nights, and also for their classes. They’ve just recently concluded their Binding Blitz, with applause and prizes for the quilters who managed to bind the most inches around their quilts.

Knitters and crocheters flock to Birds of a Feather, too.

Yarn at Birds of a Feather

One of them was Rachel. She loved crochet and came initially to learn how to make fabric linings for her crocheted bags. It wasn’t long before she was ‘hooked’ on quilting too. She loves working at Birds of a Feather, says that what drew her there was the friendly, helpful atmosphere (and the batiks, too). She’s happy to be able to continue the tradition of outstanding customer service that Elizabeth has established. And Elizabeth told me that her favorite thing about Birds of a Feather is helping people assemble memory quilts from treasured family photos and favorite clothing items. “It brings people together,” she told me on the phone, “and it’s much less expensive than therapy.”

Therapy in Session at Birds of a Feather

We had to fly, but I hope I’ll be able to stop by again to meet Elizabeth in person someday.

Things to Know about Birds of a Feather and Westlake OH:

Website: www.ebirdsofafeather.com

What to See and Do in Westlake: Westlake is a suburb of Cleveland, so visitors have easy access to all of the attractions in Cuyahoga County. Elizabeth suggested the Lolly the Trolley Tours of downtown Cleveland.

Where to eat lunch: Both Elizabeth and Rachel recommended AJ’s Urban Grill (25939 Detroit Rd) in the Williamsburg Square shopping center just a few doors down from Birds of a Feather. We ate dinner there and it was delicious. 

Our next stop: The Sewing Connection in Milan OH

Giveaway · Quilt Shop Navigator · Quilt Shops

Announcing: The Winners of The Second Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest Giveaway Are. . . . .

It is with very great pleasure that we announce the winners of The Second Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest Giveaway.

Our First Winner is Meagen Ridley (comment #9)  Meagan will receive the marvelous selection of fat quarters pictured below.

Fat Quarter Bundle - Contest 2

And our Second Winner is Deb Thomas (Comment #8)

Deb, please contact us immediately at

theqsn at gmail dot com

so that we can arrange to send you the bundle of Robotex fat quarters pictured below. If we do not hear from you by Friday, August 2, at midnight PDT, you will forfeit this prize and it will be awarded to an alternate winner.

Robotex FQ Bundle - Contest 2

Thanks to everyone who took the time to tell us about your dream quilting vacations. And thanks to the wonderful shops who made this giveaway possible.


Quilt Shop Navigator · Quilt Shops · Travel

The Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest — Homeward Bound Part 3: Bernina Store and Sew Much More in Boardman OH

Resized Map Bernina Store and Sew Much More

I’ve seldom seen a shop more accurately named than Bernina Store and Sew Much More in Boardman OH. The first thing you see when you walk in the door is an inviting array of Bernina sewing machines just begging you to sit down and try them out.

Machines and More at BS&SMM

But, as the name implies, there’s Sew Much More.

You’ll find row after row of sewing notions and accessories.

Notions Galore at BS&SMM

There are Accuquilt machines and dies, computerized embroidery patterns, and helpful gadgets.

Accuquilt Dies and More at BS&SMM

And, of course, there is fabric.

More Fabric and Stacks of Precuts at BS&SMM

Lots and lots of lovely fabric.

More Fabric at BS&SMM

Row after row of bolts. Stacks of precuts. And above, around and among it all you’ll find inspiration that will stimulate your creativity.

Samples and Fabric at BS&SMM

Looking for a project for the holidays? How about a Thanksgiving turkey wallhanging?

Dragon and Turkey at Bernina Store and Sew Much More

Or a log cabin Christmas tree skirt? Or a collection of darling Santas?

Christmas is Coming at BS&SMM

How about a series of wall hangings to celebrate throughout the year?

A Year's Worth of Applique Banners at BS&SMM

Or maybe you’re looking for something to brighten up your own holiday attire.

Embellished Sweatshirts at BS&SMM


And, in the midst of it all, you’ll find Joyce who owns of this delightful shop with her husband. Joyce will tell you that she’s been sewing forever. She started out, like many of us, with dressmaking and came to love heirloom sewing. But it wasn’t long before she was taking classes, then teaching classes that explored the wonderful capabilities of the Bernina machines they sold. She added embroidery and applique to her repertoire and, of course, quilting. “Sewing is therapy,” she told us with a chuckle.

But, like the shop, there is Sew Much More to Joyce. Not only is she a talented and creative seamstress and an excellent teacher, she’s also a certified and trained Bernina technician. As she took us around the shop, we saw sewing machines and sergers all tuned up and ready to go again, tucked in neat little cubbies to wait for their owners.

Machines Awaiting Pick-up at BS&SMM

Along the way, she’s made lifelong friends. The day we visited, we met Sally and Elizabeth who cheerfully teased Joyce as they told us tales of classes and projects they’d taken on together while they took a break from their sewing.

Sally and Elizabeth at BS&SMM

The shop’s classroom is a favorite place for them to gather for an afternoon of stitching and conversation. The banner on the wall says it all.

Shop Philosophy at BS&SMM

But that’s not all. There’s still Sew Much More! Joyce and her husband have TWO shops. There’s the Bernina Store and Sew Much More we visited in Boardman and another Bernina Store and Sew Much More located an hour west in Twinsburg! Both shops have a full complement of fabrics, notions, classes, and everything you could ever want or need to create beautiful things with your needle and thread.

Things to Know about Bernina Store and Sew Much More and Boardman OH

Website: www.berninastore.com

Facebook: Bernina Store & Sew Much More

What to see and do in Boardman: Just a few minutes west of the shop is the Loghurst Farm Museum, one of the oldest remaining log houses on the Western Reserve and a stop on the Underground Railroad. And a few miles farther down the road you’ll find the TP Auto Car Collection, with a sparkling collection of beautifully restored classic cars.

Where to eat lunch: Joyce, Sally and Elizabeth all recommended Niccolini’s Ristorante (1247 Boardman Poland Rd) for delicious Italian and, for dessert, don’t miss Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream (3601 Boardman Canfield Rd).

Stay tuned for our next stop at Birds of a Feather in Twinsburg OH.

Libby Lehman

Libby Lehman Update from Caring Bridge– 8-1-13

Libby Lehman

Since her shunt surgery and the operation to replace the pieces of her skull, Libby’s abilities seem to have grown by leaps and bounds.

Two Caring Bridge posts from her sister Sarah today:

Libby is having a SUPER DUPER Sunday! Yesterday’s rest has proven to be a great thing. She is alert and giving 1-3 word answers to questions very clearly- Yipee. Lester & Bill stopped by and she smiled alot and spoke with them. Sometimes it takes a while for the word to be spoken but she stays at it and then there it is clear as a bell. She even stuck her tongue out at Lester. Told her she is going to have to practice swallowing with Amy (Speech Therapist) so she could have a Margarita & boy did she light up and smile. When leaving, she told them “Ta Ta for now”. We had been encouraging “bye” but she came up with Ta Ta on her own! Called Bill by name. Today our Libby is very present, happy and wanting to talk. Totally different from yesterday. Just couldn’t wait to share the good news with everyone.


Ok know I already posted about today, but there is more good news to report. Today temp is normal and BP is fabulous (finally). Now the fun stuff. We were working on phrases and she was doing really good so asked if she want to say those to Cathy & Ellen and she replied “Yes, right now”. So called them each on the cell phone and no kidding folks she told each one of our sisters…. “I love you” and then “bye” – loudly, slowly and clearly!!! Afterwards she was smiling big grins and an expression that conveyed she was very proud of herself. And she should be. Happy tears were streaming down my cheeks. Her sincere declarations to both of them pulled hard on my heart strings. Can’t help it but when I am overflowing with such strong emotions of joy, I leak. Then after composing myself (during which time big sister Libby just kept squeezing my hand) asked her if she wanted to listen to music or watch DVD. She said firmly “practice”. I asked “keep practicing talking?” and she replied”Yes”. So for about 45 minutes we practiced 1 word responses and 2-3 word replies for questions people might ask her. She did great. You have to have lots of patience sometimes as it takes her awhile but she got there 95% of the time. Then I role played different family, friends, therapists & nurses strolling in and asking her questions so she could practice her responses. Well I’m not a good actress but evidently quite entertaining because she chuckled pretty loudly at a few of my feeble attempts to be other people. All this fun & games left her pretty tired and she decided to nap. In typical Libby fashion she is wanting to succeed and all with a great sense of humor. Oh what a glorious day!

May she continue to make such wonderful progress so that we can break out the salt and lime for those margaritas!

Update for 7-29-13

An early morning report from Libby’s sister Ellen:

It was Fantastic! to see Libby this morning after being gone for a week on a church mission trip. What wonderful progress she is making! Praise the Lord! She had already visited with Lester earlier in the day and was waiting for Therapy to start when I arrived about 9:20am. She was sitting up on the cushioned therapy table with very little assistance from Bolla – good for you, Libby!!!

We had a short conversation, with Libby providing plenty of smiles and a few appropriate comments. My favorite was when she told me, “I’m crazy”, with a smile. I assured her that she was not, that she was only having difficulty talking, not thinking. She smiled again at that, but when I added, “or at least you are not crazier than you’ve always been”, she burst into laughter and her sweet Libby smile. What a beautiful moment to see our “old” Libby back again. Then when she told me, “Love you”, the occupational therapist Lenora, Bolla, and I all fought back tears of happiness.

Libby is working hard with the therapists on sitting on her own, picking up things with her right hand, trying (with little success so far) to “wake up” her left side, and today she even stood briefly with Lots of help from a harness machine and the therapists Pia and Bolla. I don’t think you could call it standing on her own – Yet.

Tomorrow I will try to observe and report on the speech therapist’s session, although I try to stay out of Libby’s line of vision when any therapist is working with her, so she can focus on their instructions and encouragement. Libby is trying so hard! You can’t help but admire her courage and determinaton! You Go Sister!!!

Yes, indeed. You Go Libby!

Update for 7-31-13

From Cathy Arnold:

What a wonderful way for Libby to end a turbulent month – stronger, more verbal, and great sense of humor still intact. Libby, please blast into August and take flight!
Lester reported the following today:
Libby was extremely alert this morning. She had her glasses on when I got there. Meredith Schroeder who is one of Libby’s best quilting friends had sent Libby a small magazine which had Meredith’s favorite quilts in it and one of Libby’s was in the mag. Libby looked that magazine over for 20 minutes and she told me whose quilt it was and would also comment on each quilt. If you want to get her going just bring the mag out and start asking her questions about the different quilts.

I went and got some coffee and when I came back she had found the controls to her bed and was holding it up against her ear- she thought it was a cell phone. I called Les and she talked to him off and on for about 5 minutes – Les was delighted he had talked to his mom – first time he had heard her speak.

Cathy and I were talking to Libby yesterday afternoon and out of nowhere Libby says that Delores Melton was a “bad driver” (meaning driver of Libby’s wheel chair). Delores had taken Libby outside Monday and Libby also said it was “hot”. We thought it would be a great treat. Libby had obviously not enjoyed the experience. Delores called me this morning and was telling me how impressed and optimistic she was about Libby’s recovery. Then she tells me that when she was taking Libby outside that they had gotten in the elevator and she had pushed Libby into the wall. There was another person in the elevator and Delores said Libby looked at the other person and said “she’s a bad driver”. Delores said they fell out laughing.

Update for 8-1-13:

From Libby’s sister Ellen:

Libby passed her barium swallowing test today! It’s not the sort of test you can study for (other than with practice and instruction from a therapist), and the ability to swallow is something most of us take for granted. In spite of the yukky barium, we are thankful Libby conquered this gateway to eating “normally” again in the future. Bring on the juice and applesauce!

The test was given to Libby at the Memorial Hermann Southwest hospital, which is a Very short van ride from University Place. Lester rode with her in the UP van, with Libby strapped in her wheelchair in the van. Lester reported that she seemed to enjoy the ride, and he was very relieved that this will now be her mode of transportation to doctor’s appointments and tests, instead of a gurney in an ambulance – a big improvement in “wheels”.

This afternoon Libby enjoyed a long chat in Spanish with the nurses and assistants at UP, and it seemed to Lester that Libby spoke better in Spanish than English, (but since Lester’s Spanish is mostly Mexican restaurant menu driven, who knows?) In any case, she certainly has made a Lot of friends at UP, and we appreciate any remembrances of former skills and talents.

Amy, the Speech therapist, gave Libby a 24 piece puzzle to work this afternoon, and Libby was soon engrossed and captivated by the challenge. She did not care to be distracted by Anything or Anyone, as she picked up pieces carefully with her right hand and tried her hardest to put Pooh and Tigger in their proper order.

Libby was not very successful, but she worked at the puzzle for over two hours. She gave a “don’t-you-dare” look to any of us who tried to help or wiggle a piece in for her. She was determined to do it on her own! It was hard to watch her struggle with a problem she used to solve so efficiently, but it was Wonderful to see her able to even tackle a task that would have been impossible last week or the week before. Her determination and improvements remain amazing answers to our prayers! Thank God!



The Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest — Homeward Bound, Part 2: Gallery of Fabric, Mercer PA

The Gallery of Fabric is located just across from the town square in Mercer PA in a lovely old building.

Right Across from the Mercer Town Square

Map Gallery of Fabrics

From the outside, it looks as neat as a pin.

Gallery of Fabrics Storefront

And inside? Well, inside is cozy and delightful as you could possibly imagine.

Lynnie was greeted by Gallery of Fabrics owner Sandy

There’s a wide array of beautiful fabric, of course. Over 5000 bolts of beautiful fabric.

Fabric at Gallery of Fabric

Patterns, too

Pattern Wall at Gallery of Fabrics

And much, much more.

Fabric and Patterns at Gallery of Fabrics

Sandy, Owner of Gallery of FabricSandy is the irrepressible and irresistible force behind The Gallery of Fabric. She’s a quilter, an applique enthusiast, an embroidery designer, a calligrapher, a lover of fabric — especially fabric with metallic accents, a wonderful storyteller, a gracious hostess, and just all-around fun to talk with.

She told us a bit about the history of the building. In its more-than-a-century long history, it has been a mercantile, a hardware store, and even a funeral parlor, among other things. When she and her husband Frank first bought the building and started their shop, they lived in an apartment upstairs. One day, a fellow who had worked with the funeral director came in and told her how, in its heyday, the bodies of deceased patrons were sometimes briefly stored in the apartment’s bathtub. Fortunately for her peace of mind, by the time she heard this tale, she and Frank had remodeled the apartment’s bath and replaced the tub with a very nice shower.

We met Pati, who showed us her Brazilian embroidery.

Pati Shows Off Her Brazilian Embroidery at Gallery of Fabrics

Janome Sewing Machine SmallThe Gallery of Fabric is an authorized Janome dealer with a full line of Janome machines. They pride themselves on their machine service department and their informative classes. They also carry Handiquilter machines and accessories. In fact, they were the first Handiquilter dealers east of the Mississippi. But they cater to handwork, too, with fabrics, patterns, and supplies to gladden the heart of any hand embroidery or applique afficionado. And the wide variety of sample quilts that deck the shop testify to the far-reaching array of projects and interests you’ll find at The Gallery of Fabric.

You’ll find everything from darling panels ready to form the centerpiece of a quick baby quilt

Cute Giraffe Panel at Gallery of Fabrics

to fascinating hexagonal creations that appear far more complex than they really are,

Hexagonal Quilts at Gallery of Fabrics

and  projects ranging from smashingly simple mini-quilts

Snowflake Mini Quilt Kit at Gallery of Fabrics

to elegant stack and whack beauties,

Stack and Whack Flower Quilt at Gallery of Fabrics

and dozens of other lovely quilt ideas that will intrigue and delight you.

Sample Quilts at Gallery of Fabrics

The Gallery of Fabric’s unique collection of fabric and supplies draws clientele from a wide area.

Sandy showed us some of her own handiwork.

Sandy Shows Off Her Applique at Gallery of Fabrics

Her applique was so striking I just had to take a close-up.

Closeup of Sandy's Applique at Gallery of Fabrics

She admits to not being particularly fond of traditional quilts, but told of the time that she was drawn into a Nine Patch Challenge at her local guild. She said she made a few small nine patch blocks, but then struck out on her own. She was amazed when her quilt won the challenge. I’m not at all surprised, and I don’t think you will be either when you see her whimsical entry.

Sandy's Winning Nine Patch Quilt at Gallery of Fabrics

The Gallery of Fabric is also at the heart of a continuing stream of community projects in Mercer. Sandy told us about their Donation Days.

What You Should Know About The Gallery of Fabric and Mercer, PA:

Website: www.thegalleryoffabric.com

Facebook: Coming Soon!

What to See and Do in Mercer: The Mercer County Historical Society (119 S Pitt Street) has a free museum and a genealogical library. You can download brochures for a walking tour of Mercer, featuring several stops from Mercer’s days as a waystation on the Underground Railroad from their website.  Their website also offers an interesting description of the Mercer County Courthouse, just across the street from The Gallery of Fabric. The Kidds Mill Covered Bridge a few miles northwest of town is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only remaining covered bridge in Mercer County.

Where to eat lunch: Sandy suggests Rachel’s Roadhouse (1553 Perry Hwy) for delicious burgers, sandwiches, and their signature ribs. She also likes Fox’s Pizza Den (359 Greenville Ave). For a sweet treat, try Mercer Mercantile and Soda Shop just down the street ( 108 N Pitt St).

Next time: We continue westward with a stop at The Bernina Store and Sew Much More in Boardman OH.

Giveaway · Quilt Shop Navigator

The Second Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest Giveaway — Maryland and Virginia Shops

It’s time for our second Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest Giveaway! There will be TWO prizes this time.

Fat Quarter Bundle - Contest 2

One lucky winner will receive this gorgeous bundle of 13 fat quarters from the shops we visited in Maryland and Virginia:

  • a graphic celebration of Maryland’s famous seafood from Bear’s Paw Quilts in Towson MD
  • a beautiful depiction of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC landmarks designed by Ginny Beyer from Material Girls Quilt Boutique in La Plata MD
  • a rich batik in shades of purple from Patches in Mt Airy MD
  • a cheerful wheeling print from Attic Treasure and Sew Easy Sewing School in Occoquan VA
  • a gorgeous navy and lilac batik from Quilt and Sewing Center of Fredericksburg VA
  • a sumptuous leafy batik in sunset colors from Suzzie’s Quilt Shop in Manassas VA
  • two charming Civil War reproductions from Old Town Needlecrafts in Manassas VA
  • and a pack of five glowing batiks from Circle Sewing Studios in Woodbridge VA

Thirteen amazing fat quarters of lovely quality fabrics, in all.

And there’s more!

Robotex FQ Bundle - Contest 2

Our second winner will receive this darling bundle containing twelve Northcott’s Robotex fat quarters from Sew n Vac in Ellicott City MD.

How to Enter:

Just leave a comment below answering this question:

What would your dream quilting vacation be like?

Please also leave your email address (to reduce potential spamming, you can replace @ with _at_ and . with _dot_) so that we can contact the winners. Please, only one entry per person.

The contest will close at midnight Pacific Daylight Time, on Friday, July 26, 2013. Winners will be chosen by a random drawing and will be announced on Monday, July 29, 2013 on this blog.


Libby Lehman Updates — 7-25-13

Libby Lehman was released from the hospital over the weekend and went back to the rehabilitation center where she had been receiving treatment. However, yesterday, she was returned to the hospital to have her shunt adjusted and will remain hospitalized for a few more days.

In other Libby news, the American Quilter’s Society has announced a benefit auction in Libby’s behalf. See the link below for more information.

AQS – Libby Lehman Benefit Auction

Update for 7-17-13:

Libby is still hospitalized. She underwent surgery to replace the bones in her skull that had been removed during her first surgery. This is a very positive step, since it indicates that there is no longer great concern for significant swelling and/or pressure in her brain.

From her sister a few moments ago:

Dr Dannebaum told us Libby’s surgery went well. He did some stitching, pasting, and patching (with 5 small titanium plates about the size of nickels). Sounds like the kind of work you quilters could help with, although there might be a lot of discussion about thread color, texture of the cement paste and plates. I bet in the future there will be a lot more careful scrutiny of his stitchwork than he could ever imagine. In any case, we will be forever thankful for healthy results for Libby!!! We are waiting for Libby to be taken from post-op to ICU. Dr says he will keep her here in hospital for careful care and observation for several days. We are dancing a happy dance here in the ICU waiting room, at least we are in our minds. Feel free to join in at home!!!

Update for 7-18-13

From Libby’s sister Ellen:

Below is Lester’s first report of the day:

“Libby was sleeping when I saw her about 8 this morning”…They gave her some medicine for vomiting and to bring down her blood pressure, and both meds seemed to be working. Lester’s plan was to go back to see Libby after lunch and to bring their son, Les back in the late afternoon.

After lunch I got an enthusiastic call from Lester saying Libby was “wide-eyed and bushy tailed”, which is Texan or Southern, or both for – Good News! He was doubly excited because he is picking up their son Les from the airport later today, (coming in from Florida) and bringing him to the hospital to visit Libby. What a Blessing that she seems to be recovering so well from her surgery yesterday and will probably be able to appreciate the visit from Les. So thrilled for all three of them!!!

So glad to hear that Libby has come through this latest surgery so well. Doubly glad to know her son Les is coming to visit.

Update for 7-23-13

Libby has returned to the rehab center at University Place.

From Sarah last night:

I know Libby must be feeling like a wandering gypsy going back & forth between the Hospital & UP but so tickled to report she will be on the road again back to UP. Lester left me a message that she will be traveling via ambulance back to UP around 5:00 this afternoon. We are so appreciative of all the nurses and doctors at Hermann Hospital and can not say thank you enough. Libby had excellent care during her short stay there. Les called and had spent time with his Mom earlier reporting that she was still trying to speak which is good but thought she was getting frustrated at not being able to get out clearly what she was trying to say. Who wouldn’t be? He had brought back her activity apron and noticed how much she enjoys textures so…. he has gone back to their house, into her studio and is going to try and find one of the many kits he used to help his Mom assemble for her classes and he is (well you aren’t going to believe this) but try and sew one together. Now talk about a gift of love. He hopes touching and looking at one of her own simple samples will bring her some satisfaction. I think if she feels the stiching carefully it might bring her a chuckle or two. Not many grown sons would take on such an activity. He has to leave tomorrow morning so he is planning on busy hands this evening. He said it may or may not work out but he’s going to give it a try.  Lester talked with Dr. D this afternoon and said Libby’s CAT scan looked good. We will let you know how the return trip to UP goes. This is a good way to start the week.

And from Cathy this morning:

Early yesterday evening Libby and Lester arrived at University Place (UP), the wonderful rehab facility that has become Libby’s “home away from home”. The ambulance ride from the medical center near downtown was long due to the rush hour traffic and a wreck at the I59 and 610 Loop intersection, but Libby was alert when they arrived.
Sarah, Les and Cathy were there to greet her and get her tucked in for the night, along with many of the familiar nurses and staff at UP who were enthusiastic about Libby’s return. Two nurses “shooed out” the family so they could adjust Libby’s monitoring wires and get her comfortable.
The highlight of the evening was when Les presented his Mom with an “activity cloth” that he had made for her the night before. (See last photo in photo section). He used material from her studio and actually did several embroidery stitches on Libby’s Bernina machine. Libby gave him a teary smile, and she seemed very moved emotionally by his sweet gift. She gave her two Lesters kisses goodnight and went to sleep quickly after a very busy day.

Les With His Creation

What a guy!

Update for 7-24-13:

A good report today from Libby’s sister Sarah:

Lester just called with some wonderful news. Said Libby “had a real break-through today”! She said several words clearly like Lester, Bye Mark, Hi, I’m fine – isn’t that awesome?! Also said the therapists are very happy by her progress. Yesterday she sat in chair for over an hour (with support) and then today in the PT room, she sat for a few minutes unassisted and then again in the chair with support. Pia (PT Therapist) told Lester she is very encouraged about Libby’s abilities and willingness to try. Being able to sit unassisted is a big goal for her but is necessary before other therapies can be worked on. Lester said Amy (Speech Therapist) & Libby were “talking” the whole session. Dr. D came by to check on her and remove her staples from the surgery with the shunt.  Cathy has been up there along with Doris visiting and encouraging Libby. Sounds like an incredible day & I can hardly wait to see her tonight. Closing with a big grateful Hallelujah!

So very glad to hear that Libby is progressing so well after her surgery and beginning to regain her language ability. May we hear her famous quilting patter soon.

Update for 7-25-13:

Wonderful news from Libby’s sister Sarah:

Walked into Libby’s room today around 7 am & without prompting she said “Good Morning”! Then when nurse said she was beautiful, she said “thank you”. Asked her how she was feeling & she said (again on her own) “Better”. Her nephew Alan called while I was there & after he finished talking, she said very clearly “bye”. Then she told nurse Linda & I “I’m tired” so we had strong hand hugs & as I told her to get some rest as she would have therapy & visitors, she said loudly “Lester” and grinned. What a fabulous way to start a day. Going to be another good one – yipee! She still has low fever of 100.6. but there is definately joy in the morning! !!❤ I hope each of you receive as rich a blessing today.


Quilt Shop Navigator · Quilt Shops · Travel

The Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest — Homeward Bound, Part 1: Quilters Depot in Pittsburgh PA

Quilters Depot Map 60%

Ah, driving in the summertime! Western Pennsylvania was a maze of construction projects. But, no worries, The Quilt Shop Navigator carried us right to the door of Quilters Depot just south of Pittsburgh.

Storefront Even Smaller

It was worth the trip. There are angels here!

Smaller Angel at Quilters DepotDetail from Angel Wallhanging at Quilters Depot

Angels everywhere.

Angels Among the Fabric at Quilters Depot

Angels watch over the many bolts of fabric.

More Angels and More Fabric at Quilters Depot

They hang on the walls.

Another Angel at Quilters Depot

Pauline at Quilters Depot ResizedAnd then there is Pauline who owns Quilters Depot with her daughter Jennifer.  Pauline explained that the angels are one of the things that makes Quilters Depot special. “We have angels around us, ” she said. “If you look around the store, you see angels all along the top shelf. I believe in angels. I believe that all of us can be an angel to one another.”

That philosophy has guided them over the last four years, as they have established their quilt shop. They’ve worked hard to make Quilters Depot “the quilters’ version of Cheers, where everyone knows your name,” as Jennifer says on their website.

Quilters Depot is a special place because of it.

There is beautiful fabric at Quilters Depot.

Fabric at Quilters Depot

You’ll find lovely sample quilts for inspiration.

Oriental Wall Hanging at Quilters Depot

Yo-yo Christmas Tree at Quilters Depot - Copy

The classroom corner is festooned with quilts.

More Quilts in the Classroom at Quilters Depot

And they’re piled on the classroom tables.

Quilts, Quilts and More Quilts at Quilters Depot

And works in progress, too.

Work in Progress at Quilters Depot

Pauline told us about her favorite quilt, which is hanging on the classroom wall.

And here it is:

Pauline's Redwork Babies at Quilters Depot

This gorgeous purple sampler caught my eye.

Purple Sampler Quilt at Quilters Depot

But I think my favorite was Seymour, the squirrel. (My family will tell you I have a thing for squirrels.)

Squirrel at Quilters Depot

The picture is small, but Seymour is not. He’s HUGE — that’s a full-size door behind him! And he’s also absolutely darling.

Jennifer and Pauline want their customers to feel comfortable and at home at Quilters Depot. One corner of the shop is fitted out as a comfortable lounge they laughingly refer to as the Husbands’ Lounge.

'Husbands' Corner' at Quilters Depot

It’s also a perfect corner for customers to sit and knit or sew down the binding on a quilt.

Antique Lone StarWhen we arrived, Pauline and her staff member Pat were helping a customer named Marilyn. Marilyn had acquired an unfinished antique Lone Star quilt. It was in very fragile condition and we were soon caught up in a discussion of how best to restore and preserve it. It’s a lovely piece. In this picture, it’s still folded in half, but the star is complete. Someone — not Marilyn — had tried to wash it.  As a result, much of the delicate fabric had frayed and some of the handsewn seams had given way.

If you ever are so fortunate to find such a treasure, DO NOT WASH IT. Take it  to someone who knows antique textiles and get their advice first. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s a closeup of Marilyn’s find. Don’t you love the gingham and the pop of yellow together? Whoever pieced it had a wonderful color sense.

Antique Lone Star Closeup at Quilters Depot

Pat told us how she signed on at Quilters Depot.

Quilters are giving people. At Quilters Depot, they are profoundly invested in doing good works in the community.

Here are the heart quilts Pauline mentioned.

Heart Quilt for Charity at Quilters DepotSecond Heart Quilt Cropped


The beautiful variety of the blocks in these quilts is amazing. When we band together, we can accomplish great things.

Pauline showed us one of the Quilts of Valor they’ve completed.

Pauline Shows a Quilt of Valor at Quilters Depot

They also have a lot of fun at Quilters Depot.

Just what every bridge needs in August:  a hand knitted sweater!

What to Know about Quilters Depot and Castle Shannon (Pittsburgh)

Website: www.quiltersdepotpa.com

Facebook: Quilters Depot

Blog: Jenn’s Quilters Depot Blog

What to See and Do: Downtown Pittsburgh is just a few miles north of Quilters Depot. You can download  a free, one-hour MP3 guide for a walking tour of Pittsburgh here. The Senator John Heinz History Center (1212 Smallman St) celebrates more than 250 years of western Pennsylvania history. The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum is also located in the Heinz History Center. Pittsburgh is a powerhouse center for sports, home to the Steelers, the Penguins, and the Pirates.

Where to eat lunch: Pauline and Pat recommended Pasta Too ( 5260 Library Rd) or Piacquadios (300 Mt. Lebanon Blvd) for tasty Italian fare. Other nearby options are Hanni’s Place (1230 Grove Road) and Kabob-G Grill (3821 Willow Ave) serving American and Middle Eastern specialties.

Next Stop:  The Gallery of Fabric in Mercer PA


Libby Lehman Updates from Caring Bridge — Updated 7-11-13

Libby Lehman

Update for 7-8-13:

Libby’s sister Ellen posted a detailed update on Caring Bridge this afternoon:

The results of the CAT scan, MRI, and EEG tests helped Libby’s neurological intensive care medical team at Memorial Hermann hospital conclude that Libby is suffering from hydrocephalus, which is an excess of spinal fluid accumulating in her brain. This is a common side effect for stroke patients, and we had been warned during her last hospital stay that it could be a possible development. On the negative side, it is rarely reversible, but on the positive side, it is controllable by a shunt, which involves a valve with a programmable setting, a tube to the ventricular cavity in the brain, and drainage tube to a cavity near her stomach where the body absorbs the excess fluid. We are so grateful for the vigilance of the therapists, Pia and Savannah, at UP who noticed a slight swelling of Libby’s head and initiated immediate action to get Libby to an Emergency Room for care!

The solution was to insert an external shunt through a small hole in the top of Libby’s head on the left side (where there is still a bone covering) to drain off the excess spinal fluid and relieve the pressure and discomfort that the excess fluid causes. This worked beautifully, for a short time. Unfortunately, Libby’s external shunt became clogged and nonfunctional today, so it was replaced this afternoon. This procedure took about an hour, and was done in her ICU room after she had been sedated. Those attending were a neurologist, assistant, ICU nurse Elise, and for the critical insertion part – Libby’s neurosurgeon Dr. Dannebaum.

Dr. Dannebaum told Lester and I that if all goes well with the new external shunt, and it drains properly, and they are able to get a good reading on the pressure in her brain, then he would like to do surgery to put in a permanent internal shunt as early as possibly Wednesday. If that surgery goes well, Dr. Dannebaum would like to immediately follow the shunt surgery with surgery to replace the two pieces of skull bone which were removed on the right side of her head during her prior hospital stay. (Looks like another buzz cut for Libby, and Lester, too, if he’s up for it.)

Dr. Dannebaum was hopeful that resolution of Libby’s hydrocepahlus pressure problems by a properly functioning internal shunt (which is programable by a machine with a magnet put to her head on the outside – Thank goodness!), would enable her to return to UP a couple of days after surgery to resume her recovery therapy. We all hope and pray that his hope comes true!

It has been a rough few days on Libby and all the family, but we are anxious to have the next two surgeries done and to return Libby to her room at UP. She is naturally, not currently as responsive or alert as she was before the hydrocephalus hit her, but …she is less anxious, fidgety, and does Not seem to be suffering the minor seizures which were afflicting her before the shunt/drain insertion.

Lester reported that Libby still responded positively when he asked some medical staff members to speak Spanish to her. For some reason that romance language seems to bring her comfort, (or at least it does when it is spoken properly). Thank God for anything that might ease her anxiety or discomfort!

Also, my 12 year old granddaughter Carlee, called me this afternoon when she heard about Libby’s new diagnosis. Carlee received her first shunt for hydrocephalus at three months old, and she received her most recent revision for new shunts during the same time Libby was first in the hospital in May. Carlee’s words of encouragement to me were that Libby’s new shunt surgery is “something to be Joyful about, not sad, because Aunt Libby will feel sooo much better!” She should know. Libby has been there for Carlee so many times for her multiple shunt revisions, and now Carlee is there for Libby. God is Good.

Thank you all for your prayers and support during this difficult time for Libby and those who love her! We appreciate you ALL, and your messages of encouragement, prayers, suggestions, and interest mean more to us than you will ever know.


Update for 7-9-13

From Sister Cathy:

     Today we met with Dr. Dannenbaum, Libby’s neurosurgeon,  who said he has scheduled the surgery to put a permanent shunt in Libby’s brain tomorrow.  He may or may not also replace her skull pieces that are in the “bone bank” at the hospital.  Depending on the amount of fluid and swelling in her brain and some other issues, he may determine that it would be the most conservative and safest plan to do that surgery separately at a later time.
      If all goes well, Libby should remain in Memorial Hermann ICU for a few days and then hopefully be able to return to University Place to resume rehab.   The hydrocephalus has certainly been a set-back for her, but hopefully she will recover quickly and be able to return to her physical, occupational, and speech therapy soon.
     I apologize that we are not able to answer your specific questions in your comments in the guestbook, but please know that everyone on TEAM LIBBY reads them everyday.    There are so many wonderful messages, good advice, and spiritual and uplifting words of faith and encouragement.  But in light of tomorrow’s surgery, I can’t resist repeating a beautiful message from Deanna Ripley-Lotee to Libby:
     “As you go into this new step of your life, see your students beside you, your family beside you.  Those of us who knew you in Asilomar, hold in your mind the coolness and loveliness of the ocean, the waves crashing on the Pacific coast, the soft sand beneath your feet–we are there watching the sunsets, we are there listening to the gulls, we are there looking through the tide pools, we are there laughing at your jokes, taking your instruction, creating art of our own.  We are there holding your hand, smiling, happy, loving the wonder that is you.  We are there.”
Thank you all for “being there” for Libby and her support team at this scary time.
Update for 7-10-13 am:
Libby’s sister Cathy just posted a report on Libby’s surgery this morning:
 I never thought I would rejoice at the word “uneventful”, but Dr. Dannenbaum used it several times in describing Libby’s surgery this morning and it sounds wonderful!  They put in the permanent shunt in her brain, but chose not to do the bone replacements today.  Although we would have loved for Libby to have that skull protection (and to no longer have a concave right side of the head), the more we learned about the pros and cons of replacing the bones at this time the more we are grateful that she has some room for any future swelling and/or fluid buildup if necessary.  (Thank you to those of you who advised us on this.)  Libby is still in post-op, and has not returned to the ICU, but all reports indicate that she is doing well.  If all goes well in her recovery from surgery, she should be able to return to University Place in a few days.  Praise the Lord!  Thank you for surrounding Libby in love and prayer.  Kudos to her medical team for their skill and compassion.  Hear that sound?   It is a universal sigh of relief and gratitude.

May Libby recover quickly and well from this setback!
Update 7-11-13:
From Ellen this afternoon:
The road to recovery has not been a smooth one for Libby. Today she has been in a lot of pain and discomfort, with some vomiting. Lester noticed her head seemed to be swelling again, so the doctor used the machine on the outside of her head to adjust the flow of the shunt. This procedure resulted in a reduction of the swelling, but now there is some concern that the shunt is draining too much and might have to be adjusted again. Doggoneit. Until the setting is right there is a lot of pressure in her head which is painful. At least with modern improvements to the shunts, adjustments can be done without additional surgeries which were necessary years ago, and before shunts were invented- well, let’s not go there. Thank God for his mercies and for revealing knowledge for discoveries by researchers in the medical field every day which relieve suffering and increase healing. In the meantime, the medical team watching over Libby in her new Intermediate Care room at Memorial Hermann hospital will be monitoring her condition closely. She has been given some anti-nausea medicine which seems to be helping, and hopefully, soon she will be feeling better. Both Lester and Susan Gartner reported that Libby is understandably, not up to interaction with them today, except for recognition and slight acknowledgement of their presence. Lester said the best she could manage today was a fleeting attempt at a smile, which is probably more a reflection of her sweet spirit than her physical condition. We are all hoping and praying that the shunt flow setting can be found which is Just Right for Libby’s special circumstances, and that she will feel relief from the pain as soon as possible. We know there are many friends praying for her and supporting her all over the world, and we are grateful and appreciate each and every one of you! Hope to have better news tomorrow.

To learn more about how you can help for Libby and her family, please visit How We Can Help Libby Lehman. Entries for Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims’ quilt contest must be received by Satuday, so if you plan to do so, act quickly. Please consider carefully what you can do.

The Quilt Shop Navigator is working on another way to show our support for Libby and her family. We hope to be able to announce it soon.

Quilt Shop Navigator · Quilt Shops · Travel

The Cross Country Quilt Shop Quest — Maryland Shops, Part 4: Sew n Vac in Ellicott City MD

Sew n Vac Storefront

Some quilt shops are born because a quilter can’t find the fabric she needs and/or wants to share her love of quilting with other quilters. Some shops start as something else and find their niche with quilting. And still other shops add quilting as a sideline because it’s a way that they can better serve their customers.

Janice at Sew n Vac

Janice, the owner of Sew n Vac, will be the first to tell you that she’s not a quilter. But she understands quilters. And she knows what they need and how to help them.

What Janice knows best is sewing machines. She’s been in the sewing machine business since 1979 and has owned Sew n Vac since 1989. They carry a full line of Babylock machines – sewing machines, quilting machines, sergers, and both home and professional embroidery machines, with all the accessories, patterns, and notions you need to get the most out of them. They can even provide you with Horn or Koala cabinets to put it all in!

(They carry vacuum cleaners, too, so you can corral all of the thread snibbles that result from your enhanced creative productivity.)

And, of course, to get the most out of their wonderful Babylock machines, quilters need fabric. So, Sew n Vac has lined the walls of their classroom with fabric.

Fabric Room at Sew n Vac

Lots and lots of lovely fabric.

More Fabric at Sew n Vac

A rainbow worthy of studious contemplation.

A Customer Ponders her Fabric Choices at Sew n Vac

And it’s beginning to creep out of the classroom and invade the main showroom. (But, then, fabric has a way of doing that, don’t you think? At least it has managed to take over almost every surface in my sewing room. How about yours?)

Fabric under the counter at Sew n Vac

And you’ll find inspiration at Sew n Vac, too.

Samples Line the Wall at Sew n Vac

I loved this tote.

Darling Bird Tote at Sew n Vac

Just look at the panorama of possibilities at Sew n Vac.

Large Panorama Sew n Vac

Still, the primary feature that distinguishes Sew n Vac is their dedication to customer service. They care about providing the best possible experiences for the people they serve.

In addition to their one-on-one classes for new machine owners, Sew n Vac sponsors a variety of lecture/demonstrations and hands-on classes for every interested sewer and quilter. During July, they’re sponsoring a three day Deck the Halls class to give you a jumpstart on Christmas.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas at Sew n Vac

Twice a year, they present their Sew Fair, a major event featuring noted educators from all of the many areas of sewing, quilting, and embroidery. The three-day seminar is filled with demonstrations of the latest techniques and gadgets in the sewing world and ‘sit and sew’ classes where avid sewing enthusiasts can try them out for themselves. This fall’s Sew Fair will feature Nancy Zieman, of Sewing with Nancy fame.

Sew Fair with Nancy Ziemann at Sew n Vac

When I asked Janice if she could tell me any special stories about her customers or her shop, she simply said, “All of my customers are special.”

What to know about Sew n Vac and Ellicott City

Website: www.sewfair.com

What to see in Ellicott City: Sew n Vac is located about 2 miles north of Historic Ellicott City proper, with its  collection of restaurants, museums, and quaint shops. There you can browse through antique shops, explore the oldest railroad station in the US, or stroll the streets.

Where to eat lunch:  Janice recommends Kelsey’s Irish Pub (8480 Baltimore National Pike) just down the way for sandwiches and other traditional pub fare.