Rosebank African Craft Market

At the end my week of teaching and sight seeing in Johannesburg two years ago, Grace Nobili and her friend Lesley took me to the Rosebank African Craft Market which is open every Sunday and located on the top level of the parking garage of a mall. I am hoping to visit again just before I come home this year.

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What a feast for the eyes! It was so colorful and inspiring. The beautiful beaded dolls and jewelry are typical of the Natal area.

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These are made from hundreds of tiny seed-beads as are the gorgeous animals below. I bought a magnificent gemsbok (oryx) from this man who made all these creatures that are displayed. Some were as large as two feet tall.

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There were many other colorful crafts. I loved the hand-embroidered squares of African life and animals. Here are several made into a fabulous quilt. There were plenty of vibrant paintings too.

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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.


Visit to Cape of Good Hope Quilters, Cape Town, August 2011

When I went to Cape Town in 2011, I did a short lecture and demonstrated my Bargello block technique at the Cape of Good Hope Quilters meeting. This group is large regional guild including several small guilds from the area. There were about 200 quilters at the meeting. They had just hosted the 16th South African National Quit Festival, so much of the business meeting concerned wrap up and thank yous to the many volunteers. The Quilt Festival is a large undertaking. It takes place every other year and guilds around the country take turns to be hosts, (the one I’m attending this year is the 17th, hosted by the Oranje Quilters’ Guild in Bloemfontein).

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Simmy Schofield was President at the time and is speaking to the assembled masses. Simmy has a quilt shop in Cape Town and is a nationally known teacher. I stayed with her for two nights and we had a great time together.

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Around the outside of the hall, there was quite a quilt show, featuring some of the winners from the Quilt Festival show and quilts provided by the smaller guilds. I took some pictures, but unfortunately don’t have the details of the makers of the quilts. As you can see there was quite a range of quilts from the traditional above, to those with more of an African flavour. The Pineapple is a beautiful miniature and the colorful sampler was exquisitely hand quilted – both were award winners at the show.

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The two pictures above show two of four large sections of one quilt. I love the animals and the scenes of rural life in South Africa. All very vibrant and colorful, as are the two below. The one on the right was hand painted.

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The coordinator for the 2011 National Quilt Festival was Wanda Carmichael and she was clad in a gorgeous coat of many colors made from silks. Here she is showing it off to me. Also in the left picture is Jenny Hermans who made the coat.

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Wanda told me the wonderful story behind the coat. Here it is as she relayed it to me. “At one of our Festival 2011 planning meetings, Helen Sands, our functions convener, suggested that as our theme was “Alive with Colour”, she thought it would be a good idea at the Welcome Supper  if I wore a “Joseph coat” and danced on the stage to the tune of “Any dream will do”. I felt secure in the fact that they would never find a coat and the dramatic societies approached didn’t hire out coats.  No problem for Jenny, she set to work to create the beautiful coat that I wore! On the evening, I sat in the wings as the committee walked onto the stage with “Any Dream will do” playing in the background.  My cue was the last chorus, but Helen had different ideas!  She called me and I leapt out onto the stage and danced and danced!  She had tricked me into dancing far longer than I wanted to!   When I started my welcome speech, I was totally breathless! The coat hangs in my sewing room now.  When I see it, I think of all the quilters…… wonderful they are…… they all like to have fun…… I thought they would never find a coat and I wouldn’t have to dance!…… my committee thought I would never do it!…… Jenny had time in between all the other festival work to make the coat……..and how I had the courage to dance on a stage in public!  It must have been the coat! ”  

As well as an inspiring meeting and a great selection of quilts, there were five or six vendors in the foyer. The one that really attracted my attention was the Inkali booth. They had wonderful hand-dyed fabrics with inked silhouettes of African animals. Of course, I had to buy some…..

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On Safari

I’m writing this in June. When this posts, I’ll be leaving Johannesburg for a four day safari staying for one night in Kruger National Park and two nights at Sabi Sands, a private game reserve adjacent to Kruger. Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to spend three nights at Little Bush Camp, Sabi Sands when I was traveling with my daughter and son-in-law. I’m sharing some of those pictures with you now, so you can imagine where I am at the moment. I’m so excited to return to this area and once again have the opportunity to see the magnificent wildlife.

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We stayed in wonderful thatched chalets which were luxurious and the dining area was open on three sides. Each day we did an early morning and late afternoon/early evening game drive in one of these open vehicles and were able to get incredibly close to the animals.

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These two male lions had killed a water buffalo and in two days, four lions ate it all up. As soon as they left, the vultures and hyenas cleaned up in a couple of hours.

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While were watching the lions, our tracker heard a leopard calling from over a kilometer away. His tracking expertise was extraordinary and we were so fortunate to see this beautiful male eleven year old. The remarkable looking bird is a Hammerkop (kop being Afrikaans for head).

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Of course we were treated to magnificent elephants and giraffes too. This elephant tore down a tree branch and was busy devouring it.

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We had great views of these rhinos. Notice the Ox-peckers. These little birds eat the  parasites and pesky insects from the skins of rhinos and hippos.

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Teaching at Running Stitch Fabrics in Kent

A personal recommendation is always nice. One of my students from a class I taught at Quilted Strait talked me up to Alice Marshall the owner of Running Stitch Fabrics and I was delighted when Alice called to invite me to teach there in early June. The store is on 1st Avenue in the heart of downtown Kent.

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It was inviting and Alice gave me a warm welcome. There was a cozy area for looking at the books, plenty of fabric, and a long-arm machine available for rental and in use for much of the day.

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I taught Kaleidoscopic Pinwheels and the class was full with nine students. Here are some of my students cutting out their colorful fabrics. You’ll notice the fan. It was an unseasonably warm day for our area, over 80 degrees F! You can also see some of my class samples hanging on the walls.

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We began by cutting eight identical squares which are stacked into two piles of four and then cut into eight triangles. You get eight sets of eight identical triangles, enough to make eight pinwheel blocks. It’s fun to see the Kaleidoscope patterns emerge and you never know exactly how they will look until you lay them out. My technique differs from that of Bethany Reynold’s in that my Pinwheels float on the background. There is a margin of about 1″ between the pinwheel points and the edge of the block. The blocks may all be trimmed to exactly the same size and there is no loss of Pinwheel points. Here are some of the blocks my students produced. Everyone was successful and we had an enjoyable day.

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Gateway to Mongolia Class

In May, I taught my Gateway to Mongolia class at Quilted Strait in Port Gamble. I teach regularly at this store and I love it. The classroom has an abundance of work walls which is great for displaying my samples.

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I had a small group of students and there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out and lay out the block components.


The block looks rather funky until it is pieced and the background setting triangles are added. It’s always fun to see it come alive at this stage. We put the background fabric on the wall and pin the block to it, then the woven effect pops and is very pleasing. Here are two examples from the class. Every student chooses different fabrics and I love to see what they bring to class.

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When this is posted, I will be in South Africa teaching at the 17th National Quilt Festival in Bloemfontein. I’m really excited to have this opportunity and they are keeping busy. I’ll be teaching workshops for six days, two lasting one day (Gateway to Mongolia and The Bears come out at Night), and two lasting two days (Bargello Quilts with a Twist and Op-Art Kaleidoscope Quilts). On two of these six days, I’ll also be giving lunch time lectures. This conference only takes place every other year and is a big deal. There are at least 20 teachers, one from New Zealand and the others from all over South Africa. The location of the conference, which includes a quilt show and several vendors, rotates around the country and is hosted by the local quilt guilds, this time by the Oranje Quilters’ Guild. The theme is Kaleidoscope, so my new template-free technique is very appropriate. You’ll be hearing more about my experiences after I get back. Perhaps I’ll even learn some Afrikaans!