What a great idea! For our birthdays, we decided to practice Zen Navigation. It's easy: fill the tank with gas, pack a pillow and a hand-work project, and set out early. Preferably with the wind at your back. (We had the wind in our faces, but the wind was clearing fog out of Portland, so it worked in our favor.) Anyhow, all you need is a clear idea of when you have to be home. If a side road is enticing, you're free to take it. If a quilt shop suddenly appears, find a parking spot.
When the day came, there was a new priority: find fabric for three flower girl dresses for a late summer wedding, and for coordinating but not matching dresses for the three younger nieces of the bride and groom. Earlier in the week, the wedding colors had changed from violet and silver to plum and charcoal. (These things happen) The violets fabric is now destined for the back of the wedding quilt. Fabric samples in hand, I set out.
JoAnn Fabrics, Twin Falls, Idaho
First stop: JoAnn fabric and craft store in Twin Falls, Idaho. There are several potential winners, but the fluorescent lights in the shop cause poor color reproduction in digital photos. A cheerful clerk says "Take it outside," and keeps the cart from rolling away into the parking lot while I take the picture above.
I went to Boise to pick up my navigator, and we checked a couple of our favorite fabric stores.
Quilt Expressions, Boise
At Quilt Expressions http://www.quiltexpressions.com/ this pair of fabrics include the colors in the two color samples. There wasn't much fabric on either bolt, but together there's plenty for dresses for the three younger nieces.
The next morning, we headed west. It is remarkable how many stops for food or fuel can be in towns with quilt shops.
First, we visited Baker City, Oregon, but the first quilt shop was closed. On Saturday morning. Hmm. We picked up a quick breakfast and headed off on I-84.
At Pendleton, we stopped for gas, and a not coincidental visit to the Pendleton woolen mill. We oogled the blankets but didn't buy anything. More about wool later.
By later afternoon, we were in Portland at the Fabric Depot. We (purely by accident, or rather Zen navigation) arrived during a 35% off sale. Fabric Depot is enormous. It seems to have every quilt fabric of every line by every designer in the country. Maybe on the planet.
Fabric Depot, Portland
These fabrics include a lovely grape purple light weight linen and misc. other finds. At some point we had to admit defeat: we'd found perfect fabrics for all of our projects, and had not seen every fabric in the store. It is possible to founder on fabric.