The Topeka Rose is a very simple, but pretty, applique pattern. The signs around the small country town advertising the Topeka Quilt Show were a soft pink and carried a dainty air about them. They were placed so visitors could find their way to the tidy, little red brick church on the corner of Pine and Babcock. Cars were parked along the tree-lined streets and a few held gentlemen patiently waiting for their wives who had come to satisfy their quilting urges.
As I entered the church, almost with a feeling of reverence for where I was, there was a bit of excitement in the air. Old friends greeting one another. The white haired lady taking money was a former grade school teacher and the slightly graying lady in front of me was one of her former students. They greeted each other with hugs, smiles and laughter, catching up on each others' lives. I wish I could know more of my former students! As I joined the crowd, others could be heard renewing their annual hellos and catching up briefly on what was going on while those like me, quietly looked and touched with glove-covered hands.
In what we have always called the "vestibule" and others call the "narthex", there were piles of quilts that had already been spoken for, off to the side. Beautiful hand appliqued bed size quilts hung from the dividers and had price tags on them. I wondered how anyone could let go of such beauties. My experience has always been that an appliqued quilt becomes too much a part of my life simply because of the hours, life events that get stitched into the quilt and the thoughts or memories that go with those bits of fabric. I would never be able to come up with a price fair to either me or the purchaser. The sanctuary was full full full. Racks held completed quilts, Christmas tree skirts, lap quilts and wallhangings. Quilt tops, donated and not yet quilted, draped over the backs of the worn oak pews that have held hundreds of worshipers over the years. I wonder how many of those who have sat or now sit in those pews are quiltmakers. I love old church pews.........there is something about smooth, old, wood that is well worn by the touch of hands, that tugs at my heartstrings.
I found a top that will get new borders before I send it to the quilter. This top will go to a young man who just moved into his first apartment. The price was such that I couldn't buy fabric for the price they were asking and different borders will give it a new, more masculine look.
As I made my way through the maze of friendly quilters and quilts, I saw several of the gals from the quilt group near the cottage and after a few words, an invitation to Tiffany's for lunch was given. Of course I'd go - I never turn down an invitation to lunch!! :>) Tiffany's is a small, white building with a large parking lot lined for cars and a hitching post for horses. The food there is really good, down-home cooking! Homemade chicken and noodles, served over real mashed potatoes (I think it is a midwestern thing), pork manhattans and homemade pies. Yum Yummmmm. Almost sinful! The German Chocolate Pie was sinfully good as well - and I ate the whole piece! Lunch time brings in the locals as well as the area visitors. The Amish lady across the aisle, reminded me of my grandmother who was born in 1883 and was raised with religion reflected in her clothing. Men with farmers' tans, young Amish girls working as waitresses and lots of quilters filled the large room with noise.
Following the much-too-much for lunch, we headed to Shipshewana and some shopping. Shipshe is becoming very commercial, but there are two very good quilt shops there that always get my attention several times during the summer. I found sashing for a T-shirt quilt that I'm helping a friend do at Yoder's, some 25% off fabrics at Lolly's and a few birthday gifts for quilty friends before I headed home. It was a truly delightful day - just the kind a quilter loves to have.......quilt ideas, friends, chocolate and fabric purchases on a sunny summer afternoon!
This year was the last year that the show would be held in Topeka at the church. 33 years is a long time reported the gray haired lady at the checkout. It will be moved down the road a ways to Honeyville where there is more space. On the way home, the urge to drive thru Honeyville hit me. There is a very large quilt sale held there every year and my curiosity got the best of me. Honeyville is small - so small that there are no stoplights and only one stop sign, a few homes and an old school where the show will be held. A former general store sits empty and another antiques shop is at the edge of town, but the local color of buggies and bonnets is missing.
I suppose after 33 years it is time to move on, but the setting and the comraderie felt in that little brick church was something special. I wonder what they will do with those pretty pink signs.