Jinny Beyer Studio, Loudoun Museum, Belle Grove Plantation and our First Show and Tell

Fall Leaves

The day would eventually take us away from the Greater Washington DC area, but not before we paid a visit to the Jinny Beyer Studio in Great Falls, a small town on the Potomac River, and the Loudoun Museum in Leesburg. 

Luckily, Jinny Beyer and her team had agreed to open the shop for us two hours earlier than normal. And they kept their calm most admirably when we descended on them and searched in every nook and cranny for exciting shopping targets!

Jinny Beyer Studio

We would like to express our gratitude to the entire sales team for having us and to Jinny Beyer, who took the time to come to the shop personally, patiently answered all our questions, signed patterns or books and posed with whoever asked her to.

Shopping

A lot of looking around, admiring, and choosing had to be carried out in the two hours allotted to our shop visit. Even at this stage, and on only our 2nd travelling day, calculations and estimations had to be made as to whether the purchase of a quilt kit would completely mess up the carefully established weight policy for the suitcase. And after one of us discovered the neat, cherry-red totes, of course we all had to have one!

More Shopping

Again, the group earned themselves a huge compliment: They cleverly planned their time at the cutting table and at the cash register so that neither major queues nor any panic-induced shopping frenzy towards the end of our time frame resulted.

The Group

The group on and in front of Jinny Beyer’s porch

As the weather was not as brilliant as we had hoped for, we decided to skip the falls on the Potomac River that gave Great Falls its name. Instead, we returned directly to Leesburg to visit the Loudoun Museum, a regional museum dedicated to the cultural heritage of Loudoun County in which both Leesburg and Great Falls are situated.

Loudoun Museum

The museum, shown above, is a lot larger than you might expect from its modest façade. The museum houses a permanent collection  with items related to Loudoun County’s history including some very nice clothing and also two beautiful antique quilts.

The major motivation behind our visit to Loudoun Museum, however, was not the permanent collection in the main building, but the treasures that Pam Stewart, the museum’s curator would show us in the museum’s log cabin, which was reconstructed from a log cabin built by silversmith Stephen Donaldson ca. 1767.

Log Cabin

I knew from my research that the museum owns a number of quilts, but that these quilts are not usually on display. Luckily, the museum has a “behind the scenes” programme that allows groups to view, by appointment, a selection which is taken out of storage and presented in the museum’s log cabin.

As our group was too large to fit into the cabin, we divided ourselves into three smaller groups. Those waiting their turn to see the quilts studied the permanent collection or strolled through downtown Leesburg with its numerous shops and antique malls.

Pam Stewart, the Loudoun Museum’s curator, talked about the album quilt which is unfinished and assumed to be a friendship quilt made by Quakers from the nearby town of Waterford.

Pam Stewart

The time passed much too quickly and soon we had to make way for the next group.

At 1:45 pm, we boarded the bus again to drive down to the Shenandoah Valley. On our way, we made a stop at Belle Grove Plantation, our first glimpse of Southern Plantation life and our first confrontation with the American Civil War and some of its bloodiest battles fought around Belle Grove.

Belle Grove

The front facade of Belle Grove Plantation

Belle Grove Plantation was built in 1797 by Major Isaac Hite whose wife Nelly was James Madison’s sister. James Madison was the fourth president of the United States of America The house itself was strongly influenced by Thomas Jefferson, the third president, and his ideas on architecture and design. During the Civil War, Belle Grove served as headquarters to General Sheridan of the Union (i.e. the northern states).

We were greeted not only by a descendant of the Hite family, but also by two Southern Belles who turned out to be German (or part German) – What a small world! ;-)

Introduction

After a tour through the house including the basement (unfortunately photography not allowed) we were seated in an assembly room and treated to tea and cookies. And we got some interesting information about the tea drinking customs brought to America by the English settlers, and why some ladies preferred to serve tea in coffee pots during the War of Independence... ;-)

Tree on Fire

Having promised an abundance of coloured leaves before our trip, I was reassured to find trees like this among the many still very, very green ones!

Belle Grove also offers some great scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west:

Blue Ridge Vistas

... and the Shenandoah Valley to the south:

Shenandoah Valley

Finally, having eaten the last cookie and said all our good-byes, the bus took us to our second “strategic base” in Harrisonburg.

After dinner, the majority of the group met in the hotel lobby for the first of our (since the 2008 quilt trip) famous and very popular Show & Tells.

If you are a quilter, you will probably associate the term “Show & Tell” with the showing of quilts and telling about their making. But what do you do when you are on the road without access to your quilt collection? Well, you show the others what you have bought in the quilt shops you have visited so far! You tell everybody why you shouldn’t really have bought this particular item in the first place, but why you decided to do so despite misgivings about your overflowing fabric stash at home, good resolutions taken before the trip, and vows that you would certainly not buy any books or quilting stencils! ;-)

Show and Tell 1

These pictures prove that this was an exceptionally industrious group: there was so much hand-piecing, cross-stitching and knitting going on that we could well have asked the Houston show management to let us have our own little exhibition somewhere in the roped off areas! ;-)

Show and Tell 2


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