Morning came early and we headed toward Randall to visit The Old Creamery Quilt Shop (I featured them in 2016 here). We both groaned when we pulled into the parking lot as it was filled with cars AND a bus!
Indeed, the shop was hopping with excitement and who should appear but a happy follower of mine who recognized us and asked for a picture.
Jennifer quilts with her mom, too, who just might be convinced to tag along with Jennifer next year on the hop. Tu-Na Helper talked a bit with Jennifer’s husband, Paul, whose hobby is fishing. I think it’s great that he is accompanying Jennifer on part of her journey through the state but I should have asked him if she accompanies him on his fishing trips.
We were planning to purchase our morning coffee at the coffee shop located inside The Old Creamery Quilt Shop and were excited to find that it was open.
We turned our trusty little car towards Sauk Centre. The Family Fabric Shop had moved to a new location and I was excited to see it. This is our fifth year completing the whole state so visiting new shops that are participating in the hop or finding shops that have rearranged their space is exciting.
As we entered the fabric shop, we were informed that we were just minutes ahead of a bus. We got our passports stamped, purchased some teal wood grain MN fabric for me, briefly looked around, and then headed out the door just in time as hoppers poured out of the bus.
We were making good time driving through lake country visiting and shopping at 5 more shops before we checked our schedule for shop closing times and planned the remainder of the day. If we didn’t tarry too long, we could complete two more shops before quittin’ time.
We pulled up to Monika’s Quilt and Yarn Shop in Park Rapids as rain began to fall softly and discovered Jennifer and Paul inside. She wanted another picture as she forgot to ask to have one taken of us with her camera earlier in the day . It’s so much fun to run into people who read my blog. I consider them friends and enjoy meeting them even twice in one day!
I featured Monika last year and wrote the story about Grandma Sue (read that post here). I was hoping to run into Grandma Sue or Johnny in the shop again but that was not to be today.
Another hopper informed us that the quilt shop in Walker was open a half-hour later than we thought so we quickly paid for our purchase, said our goodbyes, got our hug from Monika, popped into our Prius, and headed toward Walker.
When we drove up to the quilt shop in Walker, the porch looked so inviting that I knew I had found…
Today’s Top Shop on the Hop
Jeff and Jana Weise opened Front Porch Quilts 13 years ago. The building was initially built by Jana’s parents to house her mom’s gift shop. In 2001, Jeff and Jana bought the building. They converted half of the building into a hair salon for Jana and the other half was kept for her mom’s gift shop. Jana was a hairdresser and “a crafter with a glue gun” before she started sewing and eventually opened this quilt shop. “I was a quick learner,” she said and has now gone on to design quilt patterns.
This little shop specializes in wool. Jeff hand dyes the wool. They cut and prepare wool kits and also offer it for sale wholesale as well as through their online shop here.
The shop may be small in square footage but it is packed with inspiration and a good variety of quilting fabric. Jana says, “We’re small and need to keep it fresh.” Which is why she turns over their inventory every year. She says they like being small and aren’t looking to expand but if she could have a wish granted it would be to open a retreat center for classes. But until or if that happens she encourages their customers to bring in their projects or ideas for individual help.
Jana advises new quilters to “start small. Start with something you can accomplish.”
Jana and Jeff also run Quilt MN which is responsible for all the coordination of Quilt MN fabrics, shops, and all things necessary to offer the Quilt MN Shop Hop. Jeff says they’ve had increasing participants in the shop hop with about 100 people finishing the whole state each year. They’ve been running this business for 4 years.
Jeff said, “We appreciate the work the shops do. We couldn’t do it without them.” They’ve had less shops participate this year due to retirements and closings.
Being the sleuthful investigator that I am (not), I asked if they had any new plans for the Shop Hop next year. “We’re trying to do more with social media and thinking of new ideas to make the hop an enjoyable experience for the shop owners and (hop) participants,” Jana offered.
One new idea they’ve started this year is the traveling quilt which contains all of the participating shop blocks. “It used to always be at Gruber’s (Sue, the owner of Gruber’s, had started Quilt MN-I featured her here last year) and this year we moved it to Country Loft Quilt & Designs in Forest Lake.” They’re also offering a giveaway containing all 59 fabric kits of those blocks. If you haven’t already done so, print the entry form found on the Quilt MN site here and drop it by Country Loft Quilt & Designs when you view the quilt. You have until shops close on Sunday, August 12th.
Tu-Na Helper and I would like to thank Jeff and Jana for all the hard work they’ve done. We’ve had fun each of the five years that we’ve participated on the Quilt MN Shop Hop not only visiting the shops and buying lots of fabric but also driving around the state looking at the countryside. We just never know what festival or fun we’ll find around the next bend in the road.
Check out the Front Porch Quilt’s website here for more info about this shop and their online offerings (they offer free shipping in the U.S.) and the Quilt MN website here to learn more about how the hop works. They are already planning for next year’s hop. Plan a trip to Walker to check out Front Porch Quilts and when you do take a minute to look at those pretty chairs. Oh, and tell them that Tu-Na sent you.
We said our goodbyes, tucked my purchase into the car and headed on down the road. We finished the day of hopping and were able to check out of this section (North Central Region) at Hometown Crafts and Fabrics in Wadena.
It was late, just a few minutes before the closing time of 8 pm, when we entered the store but we were invited to look around. After paying for my purchase, I just had to ask about those shopping carts that I had seen when I entered the shop.
No Room at the Inn
After leaving Hometown Crafts and Fabrics in Wadena, we decided to drive about an hour to get to Brainerd in order to be close to the shop that opens at 9 in the morning.
We arrived in Brainerd a bit after 9 pm and then Tu-Na Helper started calling around for a hotel room. After many failed attempts, we were told that there were no rooms to be had within 200 miles of the area due to rain in the area sending tent campers indoors, several local county fairs and festivals, and lots of summer tourists because this is lake country after all.
I was afraid my fear of homelessness would be realized and I’d find myself parked for the night at the local Wal-Mart. However, Tu-Na Helper continued to call and finally secured a room on the outskirts of Brainerd because of a cancellation due to a bad credit card. Luckily for us, our credit is good. Luckily for him, I’m not fussy.
There would be no fancy food tonight as it was late so we ate what was remaining in the cooler and climbed into bed exhausted. We travel with a cooler and stock it with yogurt, string cheese, fruit, carrots, etc. to grab for lunches and a few evening meals when we either can’t find a restaurant or it’s too late to be served. We also have trail mix, crackers, and pretzels to snack on. Several times during the trip, after the quilt shops are closed, we restock at a local grocery store. I’d love to take time and eat lunch at a local café. However, we’d have to plan to spend a full two weeks on this trip. Maybe next year.
Tu-Na Helper’s Top Sights of the Day
Don’t Miss This Year’s Shop Hop Posts
What I Learned Today:
- Persistence pays.
- While I dream of fabric, Tu-Na Helper must dream of fishing.
- A good cup of coffee is a good way to start the day.
- I think I’m not fussy. Tu-Na Helper disagrees.
- I might have potential as a Private Eye after all. I discovered why Jana never seems to have a bad hair day.
Question: Have you traveled by bus and where? During one summer many years ago, I waited tables at the Rough Rider Hotel and Dining Room in Medora, ND. I took a bus to get there and then months later to get back home again. More recently, Tu-Na Helper and I were bus chaperones from Fargo to Chicago for the foreign exchange kids returning to their home countries. It was very bumpy!
Thanks for stopping by and do come again.
Karen, Tu-Na Quilts
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