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I’m always delighted by witnessing a sweet, nice thing that a person has done for someone else.  It lifts my spirits.  I try to write it down, not only so I can remember it, but also feeling that recording the thoughts will amplify and preserve the energy embedded in that act of kindness.  So here’s a story for you.

I have a nephew, Ben, a young family man in his 30’s who is devoted to his great-grandparents, my mother and father.  Mom, now 95 years old, has fallen at home and not been able to get herself up again.  Dad, now 99 years old, is unable to lift her, but can hand her the telephone.  She calls Ben.  Over Ben comes and helps the old folks.  Then he leaves little sticky-notes with his telephone number at eye-level to anyone on the floor. stickynoteSo there is a sticky-note near the TV and another sticky-note in the bedroom.  They are unbelievably cute.  It touches my heart.

P.S.  I have covered Ben’s number when I took the picture.  I think he would be embarrassed if any of you actually called him.

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The Battle of Wounded Knee

Those of you who visited us at a Craft Event last fall could not help but notice that the BAGMAN — my husband, best friend and partner — was having trouble with his knees and not getting around very well.  Chances are he was sitting!  Our last show was December 1 and he had total knee replacement surgery on the right knee on December 4.  For two weeks after the surgery, it was a battle!!  Now, two months later, he is walking around well and about 90% recovered (thank Heavens!!).

Continue reading The Battle of Wounded Knee

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Too Much Money!!!

As most of you know, we have a lot of fun with the people who come into our booth at Fairs and Festivals.  We laugh and joke with them and enjoy their banter back at us!

One of my standard remarks is about the weight of a lady’s purse.  I tell her that, if her purse is too heavy it must be because she carries Too Much Money, and all she needs to do is spend some of that and she will be just fine.  And, also, she could use a wonderful tapestry/fabric purse which start out light-weight, then, when she loads it with money, it’s not such an issue!

Of course, I get all sorts of answers!  Mostly, people smile and say, “Yeah, I wish it were money!”  or “Money, ha!  It’s all the junk I carry!”  Occasionally, someone goes along with the program and tells me, “Well, that must be it!”  or “You’re right!  I hadn’t thought of that!”

But, this summer I had a lady say, with a serious straight-face, “Oh, Idohave a lot of money …  it’s a burden, actually.”  I laughed, but later wondered if she really was joking with me….. ??

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Not Your Mother’s Size!

Now I have to share with you my very favorite story.  We meet many wonderful people when we have our booth up at events, and we enjoy their sense of humor and have fun with them.  So, we have multiple stories.  But this is the BEST!

Many years ago, I had the booth up at a County Fair in the small town of Calhan, Colorado, in the southeastern part of Colorado.  Back then, our product line was mostly aimed at the Rodeo and Horse People.

We didn’t have many purses, but made a lot of rodeo gear bags, bags for horse tack, etc.  Among them was a Hay Bag, which people use to feed their horses.  You put the hay in the top and the horse eats out of the hole in the front.  This is particularly good when you travel as you can hang the bag on the side of the trailer and keep the hay off the ground.  Some horses are very sensitive to breathing in dust off the ground.

MKI Country Catalog from years ago!

Here’s a picture of an old catalog showing the Hay Bag at the lower right.

So, there I am in my booth in Calhan and in walks a middle-aged couple, who look to me like local farm folk.  The lady is real nice, with a smile, and the man is no-smile, stocky, strong, browned by the sun, arms folded in front, no-nonsense.  He reminds me of my old German uncles — hard-working, salt-of-the-earth type folk.

The lady is looking at our bags and spots the Hay Bag!  “Look, Dear,” she says, “a feed bag!”  He looks.  “Nay,” he says, “you don’t need that.  It’s not your Mother’s size.”

I couldn’t believe it!   And I looked at him and there he was with a cute little onery grin!

It’s been years since we’ve been there, but I’ve never forgotten this story and his dry sense of humor!

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Wardrobe Malfunction – A Broken Purse Horror Story

Why You Want to Buy a Quality Bag:  When you buy a cheap, not-well-made purse, the seam bursts open when you are shopping.  When the seam of your bag bursts open, your car keys fall out and you lose them.  When you lose your car keys, you stand in the parking lot unable to get into your car.  When you are unable to open your car door, it inevitably rains and then pours.  When it pours and the wind howls, a tornedo forms and the tornedo sirens go off.  When the tornedo sirens go off, you seek the closest shelter.  When you seek the closest shelter, you dive into a muddy ditch and wait for the tornedo to pass.  Don’t dive into a muddy ditch to avoid a tornedo, BUY A QUALITY BAG!

Here’s what it takes to make a sturdy handbag:

1.  Heavy-Weight, Industrial Sewing Machines.  We have two Juki DU-141 Walking Foot machines, as well as a Brother Industrial 5-Thread Serger.  I also have a home machine — a real nice Bernina — but it’s just too PUNY in relation to the Juki.  I use the home machine for household mending … it never touches my bags.

2.  Good Quality, Heavy-Weight Materials.

 I buy only 1000-denier nylon Cordura to use as the base of most of our bags.  “Cordura” is a Dupont Corporation product and is much better than “microfiber” or other knock-offs.  It’s strong, holds its shape and wears and washes well.

Most accent fabrics/tapestries are not a strong as the nylon Cordura, so wherever we use the tapestry we line it to give it extra strength.  Also, some tapestries are a looser weave than others, so we serge the edges of those so it will not fray or run.

Aztec Tapestry with edges serged to add more stability

I sew only with Number 69 nylon thread.  It’s strong stuff and you cannot break it with just your hands.

After researching the break strengths of the buckles, etc. I chose a supplier who is (unfortunately) more-expensive but sells better-quality hardware.   And you’ll notice that our webbing is stiff when it’s new.  There is a light-weight and a heavy-weight version of most webbing and the heavy-weight is stiff when it’s new.

I use only YKK zippers, mostly #5.  Again, I researched brands and weights of zippers and these are the best that are made.

3.  Going the Extra Mile with Sewing Techniques.  I double-sew all the zippers, triple-sew all the intersections and bind all the seams.  I back-tack often at the beginning of a seam so there is no chance of coming un-sewn (I’ve worn the paint off the back pedal!)  If I run out of bobbin thread when top-stitching, I take out the entire seam and start again so that the top stitching is one complete line and there is no danger of coming undone.  I have been sewing since high school when I took sewing lessons from a professional seamstress so I’ve had many many years to develop my skills.

We do all the work ourselves and can be sure of our quality that way.

4.  Sturdiness Built Into the Design.  Several of our patterns call for straps that are sewn down the side as opposed to fitting into a top seam where they might pull out.  Our three Totes even have the straps sewn all the way around the bottom!

SO … BUY A QUALITY MKI BAG.  Warning:  Make sure you like the color …  you’ll have it a looong time!



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Shelby, Mhelby, Ahelby, Bhelby – a cute story

When 5-year-old granddaughter Shelby was learning her letters and their sounds, she hadn’t yet grasped the concept of sounding out individual letters to make a word.  But she did know that her name had the letters S-h-e-l-b-y.  She also knew that Mommy’s name started with an “M”, that sister Avery’s name started with an “A”, and that sister Bailey’s name started with a “B”.  So one day she made name plates from scrap foam in Grandpa’s shop.

name plates
Shelby’s name plates

She wrote the letters that made up a name – S-h-e-l-b-y — and then wrote other “names” starting with M or A or B.  She thought that all names have the same ending letters — h-e-l-b-y and that only the first letter changed!

Is that cute or what?!!
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Three Ways to Maintain Suitcase Sanity

In general, I am a stay-at-home kind of person.  Most people love to travel, take cruises, tour and go places, but not me!  So the prospect of a road trip from Colorado to Houston left me cold.  A different motel almost every night … hauling my bags and the dog in and out … wondering where I put this or that … no, thanks.  But, the opportunity to visit family won in the end and away I went — with my husband driving and the dog in the back seat.

I did manage to keep sanity in my travel bag by using two Packing Cubes and one Packing Tube to organize my stuff.  It eliminated my rummaging through the bag looking for lost items.  Nothing was lost!!

packing aids
Three Stress-saver Packing Aids

The first Packing Cube is stuffed with lingerie…ten days worth.  I always knew where the clean undies were and I found that very comforting.

I put rolled-up  socks in the Packing Tube.  It was easy to find the color I needed.
The second Packing Cube kept my robe, nightie and bedside items.  This was incredibly handy!  I had my alarm clock, mini flashlight, lotions and aspirin all in the same bag.  Best of all, it was separate from other things and it was all there when I needed it!
Traveling for me is disconcerting, to say the least.  However, being organized saved my sanity.  And now that we are home again, I admit that I really really enjoyed the trip.  It’s a good exercise to expand out of my normal comfort zone and experience not only the joy of being with family, but the beauty of the scenery and the kindness of strangers.  I’ve now viewed the Gulf,  petted a stringray, and got introduced to a seawall at Galveston.  Not the typical experience for a Colorado farmgirl!
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Craft Fair Junkie

Yup, that’s me.  I love craft fairs!  And we officially started the 2012 Craft Fair season last Saturday, March 24, in Laramie, Wyoming.

Now, driving north to Laramie at this time of year is usually a challenge.  We have, in past years, encountered snow, icy roads,  cold, fog so thick you can’t see where you’re going, and wind, wind and wind.  There’s a Country-Western song about a truck driver that has a line something like, “if the wind is blowing, it must be Wyoming.”  Well, this year was a bit windy, but not so bad, and the weather otherwise was wonderful — sunny and warm.  I’ll take that as a positive omen for the weather this season.

There are two major reasons I love craft fairs:  (1)  I meet so many genuinely nice people.  (If you listen to network news, you wonder if there are any of those left!) and (2) I get to shop for high-quality, unique items that you can’t find in stores.

When we arrived at 5:45 AM (yawn, yawn) Deb was already there and had the coffee on.  Deb is a member of Xi Beta Chapter of Laramie Beta Sigma Phi and has, for the past 9 years, organized their Spring Bazaar.  The event is a fundraiser for the charities that they sponsor and the ladies work the kitchen (complete with homemade cinnamon rolls, yum,yum) as well as spread smiles and good cheer all day long.  I admire those ladies who spend their time and efforts to raise money for charity!  Good-hearted, nice people!   And customers and fellow vendors who are also genuinely nice people.  It was a good day!

Then, to make it an even better day, I was shopping and found just the right hat that I’d been looking for!

red hat
Handknitted hat by Mavis

I plan to use the hat on my morning walks.  It will keep my ears warm and the bill will shade my sunglasses.

And Mavis found just the right bag that she was looking for in our booth!  She chose a Navy Queensland Tapestry Teardrop for an upcoming trip because it was sturdy, light-weight, will carry “the big billfold” and has a good pocket for a bottle of water and handy pockets in front for tickets, etc.


Like I said … it was a good day!

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MKI Bags Fan supports Friendship Bridge

Our friend, Sara, recently returned from Guatemala, where she visited in conjunction with Friendship Bridge, an organization which provides microcredit and education to Guatemalan women so that they can create thir own solutions to poverty.MKI Bags in Guatemala with Sara

Sara writes, “I am in Panajachel with Lake Atitlan in the background.  Your bags worked very well!”   She has her Navy/Mystic Teardrop over her shoulder and is holding several Packing Cubes and Tubes which she used to organize her suitcase.

I love the scenery!  What a beautiful place …  Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.  Our bags are certainly world travelers!

MKI Tapestry bag on Sara's shoulder at Friendship Bridge Guatemala
MKI Tapestry bag on Sara's shoulder at Friendship Bridge Guatemala

While in Guatemala, Sara had an opportunity to interact with the clients of Friendship Bridge.  Sara writes, ” This client asked to have her picture taken with me.  Check out the size difference between me and her. She’s 73, still working, has 10 kids, I think she is illiterate as many of the older clients are, but dynamite to listen to. She told us, through translation, of her life which had been difficult. She got married (young) and worked and supported her husband’s family who never liked her. She has a business, maybe selling vegetables in the marketplace, maybe weaving.

It was very interesting contrasting her circumstances with some of the younger women in the trust bank group who had much fewer children, like 1-3 instead of 10, and they had stayed in school into high school. Their husbands helped out with family chores and kids so they could work on their business. We saw a lot of change from the older to younger generation at several of our visits.”

Sounds to me like Friendship Bridge is making a difference in the world and I am happy to send a contribution to them.  Check out their website at


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The Family Discount

Lately, I have been working on our show schedule and getting excited about putting up our booth at different events.  We always enjoy the people we meet and get a chance to chat with.  I’m always delighted by someone’s sense of humor.  Most people just love to have fun!

So… here’s a story.  Last August we were set up under the trees in Ridgway (beautiful setting) and a young man walks in who makes my heart jump!  He looked just like my son Jeff!!  Son Jeff had recently moved out of Colorado to California and I was devastated.   It took me a couple moments to realize that, although the body style was the same, those sunglasses, goatee and ball cap did not indeed belong to Jeff.

The young-man-customer looked at me quizzically, so I told him how similar he looked to son Jeff and how much I missed my son and then I asked him if I could have a hug!  He laughed.  I called my husband over to see the Jeff-look-alike and he agreed that this guy looked like he belonged to us!  The young man was great … asking what was for dinner, etc. and we traded quips and had fun!

When the wife of the young-man-customer found a Tapestry Teardrop to buy, we proceeded with the transaction and he asked, “Do we get the Family Discount?”