Life if full of changes – some better than others. I recently learned that my friend Cheri Bridges, owner of Ah! Kimono, is going to be retiring soon. While that’s wonderful for her, as she can now travel and enjoy her lovely garden, it’s sad for those of us who are addicted to her packets of gorgeous kimono silks and cottons. I, myself have a large stash that I’ve purchased over the years, but I hate to think that in about 7 weeks, I can’t get any more. She’s been a regular presence vending at all of the big quilt shows in our area for many years.
When I used to order her packets wholesale for In The Beginning to sell, she’d hand deliver them in a big paper shopping bag, and as I was pricing them, I’d put them into 2 piles; 2 for the store and 1 for me to purchase, 2 for the store, one for me, etc. Now those fabrics are treasures that I hate to use. I did cut little bits to make this miniature Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt to hang on a teeny quilt rack I have (it’s about 5″ across).
I’ve been thinking of some new projects I’d like to design using silk, but didn’t have the right fabrics for in my stash. So yesterday, I called Cheri and asked if I could come over, hoping she’d have what I was looking for (it pays to have nice friends in high places). Her lovely house in Woodinville, WA, is nestled at the edge of the woods, and I was greeted by a pair of hummingbirds flitting about. This lush area of the state is the wine country of Western Washington (Chateau Ste Michelle and Columbia Wineries among many others are there). Well, it was like being in a candy store – bin after bin of gorgeous kimono silks, buckets of Burmese silks and boxes of kimonos just waiting to be taken apart for their fabrics.
She told me that the reason she can get so many old kimonos is that in Japanese culture, if someone has an old kimono (often stained, discolored or worn in areas) that another family member doesn’t care to have, they get discarded. So when she takes them apart to be used for their fabric, it’s giving them a new life.
I was able to find fabrics for 3 projects (it wasn’t hard) and I fell in love with all of her gorgeous colors of Burmese silk. They have a glow about them the colors are so lush – and they’re even washable! I matched a bunch of them to this copper-colored silk print – yummmmy! I’m using the wrong side of the print which is a little warmer than the right side but may change my mind.
For another project, I had picked up this woven neutral colored piece of fabric somewhere in Massachusetts, and Cheri helped me select silks to complement it – I chose 2 groups – one that is pretty much confined to 2 colors (above),
and the other with a wider range of colors and textures. They both look sophisticated together – I wonder which I’ll use!
And for the third grouping, I found this lovely light slate blue silk that will make a wonderful background for all of the blues I’ve been collecting (hoarding) over the years.
Cheri told me that she will still be filling orders through the last week of August so don’t miss out – get your orders in soon! You can check out her products on her website: http://www.ahkimono.com/products.html. In addition to the fabrics, (which include aboriginal fabrics from Australia), another great thing that Cheri carries is this group of wooden quilt hangers that are ornately carved in Indonesia made from Jackfruit wood. If you’ve ever wanted an unusual way to hang one of your smaller quilts, this is it.
Well, I suppose all good things must come to an end, but for Cheri, this will mean a time for travel and adventures and the freedom to explore her true passion which is dyeing and weaving. I wish her all the best and thank you Cheri for bringing the gorgeous kimono silks to all of us for so long. Please say “ciao” to Italy for me!!!