Kaleidoscope Puzzle class at Clark County Quilters, WA

Last week I taught at Clark County Quilters in Vancouver, WA. This is a large and active group and over 200 attended my lecture. I always enjoy seeing what each student brings to class. Everyone has different fabrics and visions for their quilts. In the Kaleidoscope Puzzle class, they have the opportunity to experiment and make their own designs from the assortment of kites and wedges they cut. See my video page for a demo of this technique.20150109_141138

Here are my samples displayed in the classroom. Students can use these patterns for inspiration or create their own. It’s fun watching the designs develop as the pieces are laid out.

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Students are also inspired by looking at each others’ work and I encourage them to walk around the room to see what is going on, compare notes and make suggestions to one another. It’s also good to stand back and view the design from a distance. Value is really important in this technique and the placement of the lights and darks make a big difference to the composition. I always recommend taking a proper lunch break so that students come back with a fresh eye for their work. As you can see, we had a good variety of fabrics and designs including scrappy and asymmetrical as well as the symmetrical.

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Teaching in TX

Last month I had an excellent trip to TX to teach at the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Guild and the Midland Quilt Guild. The Rio Grande group has a huge influx of winter members who flee the northern climes for the warmth of TX. My Gateway to Mongolia class was oversubscribed so they asked me to teach it two days in a row to accommodate the extra students. The classes were prior to the guild meeting and several of the ladies finished the large center Olzii block in time for Show and Tell. It was wonderful to see a whole stage full!


We had a spacious church hall in Weslaco for the workshops. I love seeing all the different fabrics my students bring to class and the emerging variety of blocks. The block looks odd during the piecing, but as soon as the background setting triangles are added, it comes to life. There were some nice color transitions as shown with the green to turquoise example. The blue with red outer edges worked well because the value gradation was maintained. The pink and purple on the lime green background glowed. In the bottom left example only three fabrics instead of the usual five were used. There is just one fabric in place of the gradation of three which still produced a handsome looking block.


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Teaching in Federal Way

I recently taught and lectured in Federal Way for the Crazy Quilters. We had a half-day Kaleidoscope Puzzle Quilts class and my students had enough time to cut out plenty of kites and wedges and then play with their design layouts.

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There was a large hall adjacent to the classroom, so when it came to designing, some of my students moved in and spread out their pieces on the floor.

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It was so much fun seeing the patterns come alive. The value placement and fabric make such a difference and we had a great variety. The students learnt a great deal and were inspired by looking at other student’s choices and making layout suggestions. These traditional Kaleidoscope blocks can take on quite a contemporary look like this black and orange on-point example.

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Ocean Waves Quilt Camp, OR

I had a wonderful time last October teaching at Ocean Waves Quilt Camp on the Oregon coast, just north of Tillamook. Quilt Camp is an annual event organized by Jane Wise the owner of Jane’s Fabric Patch quilt shop in Tillamook. My good friend Nancy Watts is a regular attendee at this annual event and suggested I contact Jane about teaching. If you are looking for a quilting get-away with three days of workshops from a wide variety of teachers, this is a great opportunity in the beautiful location of Twin Rocks Camp. There were about eight teachers and 85 attendees. Here we all are. Jane in her hot pink jacket is in the front center.

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I taught workshops on all three days. Here’s my classroom during Bargello Quilts with a Twist. On the other side of the partition, Peggy Gelbrich was teaching and the photo on the right shows some of the beautiful pieces her students made in her Swinging on a Star class.

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Here’s a couple of Bargello block arrangements from students in my class. On the Christmas one, the cardinal is fussy cut to go in the center of the four middle blocks. The blocks look great.

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On the last night, we had show and tell. Nancy took these pictures of some of my students displaying their projects. It was fun to see everyone’s work. A couple of my students did study hall for a day after taking the Kaleidoscope Puzzle class, so they made great progress with their larger pieces.

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I enjoyed seeing projects from other classes too, and several people brought completed quilts from previous quilt camps. It was a wonderful grand finale to an action packed three days of fun (including jokes read out by Jane at every meal and many door prizes). As an added bonus, the food was excellent. I can highly recommend this camp and I know that Jane will welcome you as will all the regulars who have been attending for years.

International Quilt Market, Houston 2013 #1

I’ve just returned home from four days in Houston at International Quilt Market and will be writing a series of blogs on this topic. The scale of this event, which is a trade show at which quilt store owners purchase from manufacturers and distributors, is massive. The George Brown Convention Center is a vast building, complete with a row of Porta Potties! Fortunately, the latter were for use by people attending events in the park in front of the Convention Center and not for us! Upstairs in the Center there are round windows like port holes so you can look down on all the booths. There were 24 aisles each with as many as 30 booths.

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The day before Market opened, retailers and exhibitors could go to Schoolhouse presentations on new products and techniques. 12 to 15 sessions were running simultaneously. Most sessions were 30 minutes. This went on for eight hours and it was hard to choose which ones to attend. I was one of the presenters, sponsored by QuiltWoman.com, and introduced my template-free Kaleidoscope technique. About 80 people came which was good considering the timing late in the afternoon, and it was well received.

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My good friend Nancy Watts came to Market with me and was my Vanna, holding up quilts for me during my talk. Nancy also helped us set up the QuiltWoman.com booth where I worked doing demos every morning of Market. QuiltWoman.com is marketing my patterns and company owner Nancy Dill invited me to be there promoting them. Nancy D and her friend Delores Joshua ran the booth and we had fun working there and relaxing with them for dinner each evening after the exhibits closed. Here’s the booth with me at my demo station and a picture of me with the two Nancys.

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We were on sensory over for four days! There was so much to see and it was extremely inspiring. In addition to the 700+ booths, we also had access to the International Quilt Association judged show and numerous special exhibits with incredible quilts to be opened to the public at Quilt Festival following Market. During Market everyone is so busy at the booths, that the quilt exhibits are wide open with no crowds. As exhibitors, we were able to go in early in the morning so grab some additional time there. I’ll post more on the booths, show and special exhibits in subsequent blogs.

Trip to Fidalgo Island, WA

After visiting the La Conner Quilt & Fiber Arts Festival, I continued on to Fidalgo Island where I gave two lectures in Anacortes for the Fidalgo Island Quilt Guild. At the Show and Tell in one of the guild meetings, Carol Jones shared her lovely Kaleidoscope Puzzle quilt. Carol took a class from me in May at In Stitches Quilt Shoppe in Anacortes. She used 10″ Layer Cake squares in combination with her multicolored theme fabric. She says in retrospect she shouldn’t have used so many different fabrics, but I really like how it turned out and the way she blended the fabrics at the top and bottom with the background. It has a wonderful translucency about it and I was so pleased that she brought it to show me.


The next day, I taught my Bargello Quilts with a Twist workshop at In Stitches. It was fun to teach at the store again and three of my students, including Carol took my class there in May. Another took a class from me at Fabric D’eva in La Conner in August. Here are some of the attractive blocks they made.

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I can’t resist sharing some scenery pictures with you. Fidalgo Island is such a beautiful place and I’m particularly fond of Rosario Beach State Park, not far from Deception Pass. When we first came to the States 30 years ago, we spent our summers at the Walla Walla College Marine Station adjacent to the park. The long building next to the beach is the lab and library. We stayed in little cabins up by the trees which I believe have had a total face lift since we were there.

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The Maiden of Deception Pass stands majestically in the park. Do read her story. She wasn’t there for our first couple of summers. Now, 27 years later, she is well weathered and looks very natural. I was fortunate to enjoy the pretty late afternoon light and a golden sun with shimmering reflections on the sea. I highly recommend this special place to you if you are the Anacortes area.

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Quilts by my Walla Walla students

Two years ago I taught my Bargello Quilts with a Twist workshop and the Bear’s Paw sampler class for the Walla Walla Quilt Guild. Aside from the thrill of being invited back to Walla Walla as the guest artist at their Quilt Festival, I was delighted when my former students brought their completed quilts to show me.

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Here is Brenda Jones with her attractive 16-block Bargello quilt. Jan Eaton made a large bed-sized quilt with an elk panel in the center. This is a gorgeous setting and the fabrics in the blocks really match the colors in the central panel.

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Betty Woods made two big bed quilts using the enlarged 9-1/2″ blocks. On the left is an on-point setting which includes large squares. The fabric is like a double wedding ring pattern with the a moon, sun, or earth in the middle of each circle. All the colors in the quilt are pulled from this fabric. In the quilt on the right, the blue sashing sits in between clusters of four blocks in which the largest squares come together. It’s hard to believe that these two quilts are made from the same Bargello block.


Pam Murray organized a barbecue at her house for all the show vendors, the local artist and me. Draped over her couch was her beautiful Bear’s Paw sampler quilt made from five blocks with partial blocks in the setting triangles. She graciously held it up for me to photograph. I love to see that my students complete their projects and are proud of their accomplishments. It’s such a joy to share in their enthusiasm.



Teaching at Fabric D’eva, La Conner, WA

Last month I did a one day trip to La Conner to teach at the relatively new fabric store, Fabric D’eva. La Conner is a picturesque town by the Skagit river with an excellent bakery, boutiques and artsy shops.

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In addition, it is the home of the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, which as I’ve written before, is a wonderful place to go. Their Quilt and Fiber Arts Festival with a large quilt show as well as exhibits at the Museum on 4th-6th October is not to be missed. While you are in La Conner for the Festival, take a walk along the main street and check out the quilt store, Fabric D’eva.

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The Skagit Valley is well known for the bulb fields which are ablaze with color in the spring. First the daffodils, and then a whole array of tulips. The have a tulip festival every April to celebrate. Fabric D’eva has a great selection of daffodil and tulip fabrics. They also have a whole shelf of fruit and vegetable fabrics as well a wide selection of other goodies.

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The classroom and some of the fabrics are upstairs. Here’s the fantastic fish quilt hanging by the stairway and the view looking down from the top.

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Seven is about the maximum you can squeeze in for classes. We had a full contingent for my Op-Art Kaleidoscope technique and it was a great day.


I’ll be back in the area very soon, attending Quilt Festival on Sunday 6th and then lecturing for the Fidalgo Island Quilters on 7th October and teaching my Bargello class at In Stitches Quilt Shoppe in Anacortes on 8th October.

Teaching trip to Valley Quiltmakers Guild, Southern California

I recently returned from a delightful teaching trip to the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles, CA. As I’ve mentioned before, these by air trips require careful planning to manage the luggage. I always heave a sigh of relief when the two suitcases loaded with quilts are safely checked in at the airport and another when they appear at baggage claim at my destination. It’s great when a smiling face greets me and whisks me away in an air conditioned car to the welcoming home of a guild member. So far, I’m glad to say, I’ve never been left stranded at an airport and with only a couple of exceptions, I’ve stayed in comfortable accommodations. The quilters at Valley Quiltmakers Guild gave a me warm welcome and I immediately clicked with my host who was extremely kind and thoughtful. Sharing the passion of quilting brings together a whole variety of people all with a common interest and I love it.

I gave a lecture and taught my Bargello workshop. My ten students all did very well. We had a great workshop venue with plenty of space and good lighting. I love seeing the fabric choices and how differently the blocks turn out even though they are the same pattern.

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One of my students, Edith Close-Vaziri, is a recently retired 3rd grade teacher. Knowing of my work quilting with kids, she brought a class quilt she had made with her students. It’s a charming Dr. Seuss themed quilt. Each child drew a block depicting their favorite Dr. Seuss character. I love to see projects like this.

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In addition to teaching, I had the opportunity to visit two quilt shops, Candy’s Quiltworks in Northridge (left picture) and Quilt Emporium in Woodland Hills (on the right). Each had its own character and pleasant atmosphere. Check them out if you are in the area.

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On my final day, I crossed the hills to the next valley, Simi Valley, where I spent the morning demonstrating my template free Kaleidoscope technique at another quilt shop, Quilty Pleasures. After a challenging start due to the road being dug up and a diversion through a residential area, I enjoyed sharing my Kaleidoscope Puzzle and Op-Art Kaleidoscope quilts with the small group assembled and others who stopped by during the morning. In the afternoon, my host took my on a much appreciated trip to the coast to escape the 100+ degree heat then a delicious dinner with her husband at a Mexican restaurant. All in all, a most enjoyable trip.

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Teaching in Johannesburg, August 2011

When this blog is published, I’ll be returning to Johannesburg to teach quilters who kindly provided accommodation for me and transportation to and from the 17th South African National Quilt Festival in Bloemfontein. I thought I’d write about my experiences teaching here two years ago when I stayed for a week with Grace Nobili and her husband, Enzo, in Roodepoort, the West Rand area of Johannesburg. Their beautiful home sits on the top a ridge with a commanding view all round.Here is Grace in the shop with one of her feline buddies.

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There was an indoor pool and a long-arm quilting machine that Enzo and his brother built for Grace from assorted parts they gathered from a variety of sources.

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Grace and her friends in the Quadrille Quilters planned a whole week of quilting and sight seeing for me and they made so welcome. I did a lecture for the guild and taught two workshops at Grace’s shop, Quiltec Fabrics. The shop is attached to Grace’s house and is spacious. We managed to pack in 14 students on both workshop days. I taught my Gateway to Mongolia class and the template-free Kaleidoscope Puzzle class.

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When it was time to design the Kaleidoscope Puzzle quilts after cutting the kite and wedge-shaped pieces, we spread out into Grace’s living room too.

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Grace decided to try a miniature Kaleidoscope Puzzle quilt using vibrant orange fabrics. I had traveled to South Africa on my birthday, arriving in Johannesburg late in the evening. One of the ladies baked me a birthday cake and we celebrated during class. They were so kind and good to me.

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One evening, we went to another lady’s home for a wonderful potluck and a show and tell of beautiful quilts. Here’s the group. The goodies on the plate are sweet and delicious koeksuster, deep-fried twists of batter soaked in syrup.

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Grace is unable to attend the Quilting Festival in Bloemfontein, but we are planning to get together when I return to Johannesburg towards the end of July. I’m looking forward to seeing her again.