How far Toni Eckert has come from her quilt shop in her garage to this lovely shop. It has to have been at least 16 years ago when I met Toni, who at the time was a full-time mail carrier. I don’t remember who I went with but rumor had it there was a quilt store “a ways” out of town and I was curious to say the least. So out of town we went, down dirt roads and across railroad tracks. About 25 miles or so there was her shop. The garage building was closest to the road so we found it fairly easily.
The Quilt Away had high quality fabrics and notions and when I met Toni I instantly felt I’d made a friend. Toni worked so hard to get out of her garage and into a store front. It took several years of saving, hard work and dedication to fulfill her dream. She ran her shop in her spare time and I don’t think there ever was a moment she rested. In the meantime, I took classes out of her garage with other friends and supported her to the best of my ability. Quilting can be an expensive hobby and I’ve done my very best to prove that to be true.
Toni made so much available to us. She offered great teachers, ideas, patterns, and of course all that fabric.
One project in particular stands out for me when Toni, I, and several of our quilting friends spent two weekends, seasons apart, at the Salmon Lake Lodge now known as Montana Island Lodge. As a child growing up in Montana I often rode by this lodge on the way to a camping trip and always wanted to visit. It sits on an island in the middle of Salmon Lake. Well, as luck would have it I got my wish along with Toni and friends. We bartered two weekend stays here and the cost to us was time making this quilt for the master suite. A traditional log cabin quilt. The perfect fit for a log cabin. We also made twin size quilts, also traditional patterns, for the several smaller guest rooms. We were the winners here! We spent a lovely summer weekend where when we weren’t quilting we were playing in the water, soaking up the sun and just relaxing. Then again in the fall where we enjoyed the beautiful fall colors, sat in the hottub and just quilted all night long if we chose to.
I live in Arizona now and haven’t seen Toni for several years but we have kept in touch. She has graciously agreed to display some of Pardon My Bag in her shop. My box of stuff should arrive there on Saturday. I’m praying it is well received and I know she will do her very best to promote my work. Toni was also the very first order I had from my website the day after it was launched.
So, dreams do come true with hard work and persistance. The Quilt Away has a huge following and was one of the shops featured in the Quilt Sampler Magazine by Better Homes and Gardens just a couple years ago.
Don’t forget to check out the new Tooth Fairy Envelopes in Pardon My Bag. There has to be some little 4,5, and 6 year olds out there who are starting to lose their teeth.
Until Next Time…