Duck Neck Quilt, Skagway, Alaska

I’ve just returned from my Quilt ‘N Cruise teaching excursion to Alaska and it was a fantastic trip. One of the many amazing sights was the Duck Neck Quilt displayed in the Skagway Historical Museum. This quilt, protected in a glass case (hence the reflections in the photos, which don’t do it justice), really is made from the duck neck skins of Mallard, Goldeneye, Teal, Canvasback and Pintail!

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Julie Curry, one of the other teachers on the trip, told me about it and described it to me over lunch. I just couldn’t imagine it, so of course I made a point to going to see it. My size estimate is in the 60-65″ square range. It was gifted to the museum by Jennie Olson Rasmuson, who lived in Skagway for many years and helped establish the Skagway Museum in 1961. Jennie came to Yakutat, Alaska in 1901 as a missionary for the Swedish Covenant Church where she met her husband Edward who was also a missionary and the postmaster. They lived there until 1914 and had two children.

The Rasmuson family learned the skills required for a subsistence lifestyle from their Tlingit neighbours. Elmer remembers his mother’s appreciation for the beautiful iridescent feathered skins of the ducks they hunted for dinner. She wanted to make a keepsake out of the duck neck skins to help recall the family’s times in Yakutat.

Alaska 480Jennie learnt how to preserve the feathered skins with salt, a technique the Tlingit used in making ceremonial robes and ornaments. She then painstakingly pieced the skins together and lined the quilt with peppercorns to keep the moths away. The saw-tooth trim is made of felted cloth which was sent from supporters of the mission. This piece has remained in remarkably good condition and the feathers have retained their glorious lustrous sheen. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before – check it out if you are in Skagway!

Visit to Hoffman Fabrics – Part 1, the facility

On my recent trip to teach at Beach Cities Quilt Guild in Mission Viejo, Southern California, I was fortunate that on the afternoon of my lecture, the guild had an organized tour of Hoffman Fabrics. About 20 of us assembled in the warehouse and Michelle Flores, Marketing and Media Coordinator, gave us an informative presentation and showed us around.

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Hoffman Fabrics is a major manufacturer and wholesaler of printed cottons. They are well known for their luscious prints and Bali batiks. There are numerous distributors in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. Their on-line retailers include E-Quilter, Batiks Plus and Hancock’s of Paducah.

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The fabric arrives from their overseas manufacturers in long rolls. The picture shows the fabric folding machine that folds the fabric in half and winds it into bolts. Most bolts have 15-16 yards of fabric. The newly wound bolts are then wrapped in plastic ready to be shipped to the distributors.

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Next week in Part II, I’ll tell you about the fabric production and show you some examples of the new lines recently launched at Spring Quilt Market.

Scenic Colorado in the Fall

One of the joys of traveling to teach is seeing new places. Mid-October was a wonderful time to visit Colorado and I can’t resist sharing some scenic snapshots with you. Between lecturing, teaching workshops and visiting local quilt stores, my generous guild hosts took me to beautiful places.

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Adele from the Columbine Quilt Guild, and her two hiking buddies took me to Castlewood Canyon State Park, south of Denver not far from Castle Rock. As you can see, the fall colors where spectacular. We did a four mile hike up the canyon, past the ruins of the old dam and back along the canyon rim. It was a perfect temperature for walking.

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Adele also drove me along the Peaks to Peaks Highway. This chapel is a popular wedding venue and has a gorgeous view of the mountains. We walked around Lily Lake and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

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Most of the aspens had already dropped their leaves, but there were some in sheltered spots that were still brilliant golden. These two shots are in the Rocky Mountain National Park where had a picnic and saw a large herd of elk in the meadows. There was a huge buck with a harem of 35!

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Angie, from the Arapahoe County Quilters took me to the Red Rocks Amphitheater. The red rocks form a craggy outcrop and nestled between two huge sections is the amphitheater up at 6,500 ft. This is a popular venue for concerts and during the summer, there are rock bands scheduled about every three days. Even the Beatles appeared here in the 60s! At the entrance to the museum area, behind the information counter, hangs this amazing quilt depicting the rock formations. The quilt is entitled, Walk the Rocks, and was made by Judith Trager for the Public Art Program in 2003, City and County of Denver. We marveled at its beauty and the workmanship.


Happy Halloween!

T’is the season for decorating with pumpkins, Halloween quilts and Trick or Treaters. I didn’t carve a pumpkin this year, but enjoyed the colorful display and seeing all the pumpkins in the field at Suyematsu Farm, less than a mile from my house.

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On my recent trip to Colorado, it was fun to see the special Halloween displays in the quilt stores. The Golden Quilt Company had this wonderful window at the store entrance. The Halloween quilt was hanging in Laughing Ladies Quilting in Berthoud. I love this pattern, complete with bats in the borders, candy corn, haunted houses and the witch on her broomstick.

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Holly’s Quilt Cabin in Centennial had lively looking shelves of Halloween fabric with decorative Halloween quilts and artifacts. I’m not one to make holiday theme quilts, but I felt inspired by these displays. When I got home, I looked through my stash and found some harvest, pumpkin and spider fabrics that could be used for this season.

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Lecture and stay in Mukilteo, WA

In June, I had an enjoyable trip to the small town of Mukilteo, WA, just across the Puget Sound and a little to the north to lecture for the Lighthouse Quilters. Mukilteo is well known for its lighthouse in a beautiful park which attracts many visitors. It is right next to the ferry terminal for the ferries to Whidbey Island. Just up the road is the enormous Boeing plant of great economic importance in our area.

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The Lighthouse Quilters is a small group of about 35. The picture was taken during show and tell. My lecture was Creative Quilting with Kids. I’m not often asked to do this talk and it was fun to pull out several quilts made by children during my years of doing projects in Bainbridge Island elementary schools. The tree quilt in the background was made at Blakely Elementary by first grade students and is featured on the cover of my book, Creative Quilting with Kids.

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I was fortunate to stay overnight in Mukilteo at the home of Ann Lindquist and she gave me permission to share her beautiful quilts. The bed in which I slept was covered with a colorful vibrant quilt. Here’s Ann with a quilt she recently finished. I love the striking spiral design created by the placement of the dark and light values in this monochromatic piece.

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These two quilts were hanging in Ann’s dining room. I was particularly drawn to the Snail’s Trail quilt made using a wonderful variety of blues and limy greens. The smaller scale blocks in the border really add to this quilt and make the perfect frame around the larger center blocks. Thank you Ann, for a warm welcome and a delightful stay.




On the Move

Once again, I have failed to keep up with weekly blogs. I do have a good reason! Last Wednesday, I moved house and two days ago the sale of our beautiful house was completed. Now I’m getting settled at my new house, I’m planning on being more diligent about blog writing!

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We moved into this house in September 2000 and had many happy times here. It was a wonderful place to entertain and the rooms were light and airy. My studio was perfect and I was sad to pack it up and leave. I stowed all my fabric and other goodies in cardboard boxes and plastic bins.

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A few days before moving day, Ralph the cabinet maker who crafted my wonderful sewing table, came over and unscrewed the top for transportation. We had a mini crisis during the move when the guys couldn’t get the body of the table through the door. It was about an inch too large. Fortunately, Ralph was at home and came to the rescue immediately. He had to remove the feet and then it went through the door and into the moving truck. He came to my new place the next day and put it all back together.

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The most precious cargo was all my quilts. These went in my car to make the four mile journey to my new house on the north end of Bainbridge Island. As you can see, it was quite a load. The good news about all of this is that I love my new place and am making it my own. What was in my old studio is spread between three small rooms, but I think it’s going to work out nicely. I’ll give you a tour when I’ve done more unpacking.

Tillamook County Quilt Trail

In October I had a wonderful time teaching at Quilt Camp at Twin Rocks on the OR coast. En route I had time to explore a little in the Tillamook area and was delighted to see many quilt blocks painted on large boards hanging on buildings.

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The Quilt Trail concept is very popular in the East where there are around 3,000 quilt blocks mounted on barns and businesses. The nearest to Tillamook is in Nebraska. The Tillamook Quilt Trail began in 2009 with 13 quilt blocks. Each year, more have been added and there are now over 45. On the left we have the one displayed in Wheeler just north of Tillamook on the Old Wheeler Hotel building which also houses Creative Quilting, a nice quilt shop. On the right, Jane’s Fabric Patch in Tillamook has a lily block and there is one on the side of Roby’s Furniture and Appliances too.

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It’s fun to watch out for these quilt blocks and see how many you can spot as you drive through or walk around Tillamook. Brochures listing the location of all the quilt blocks are available at the Visitors’ Center and at the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center.

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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Returning home from Texas

I’ve had an enforced break since my return home from Texas. Who knows where cough and cold germs linger – whether in Texas, on the airplane or ferry, or right here on Bainbridge Island, but apparently I was an easy target. After three days of not functioning at all well, I’m now regaining my strength and my head feels only partially wrapped up in cotton wool. It really makes me appreciate the good health I enjoy almost all the time and tend to take for granted.

On the topic of health, in particular healthy eating, I snapped some photos in Old Town Spring, Texas which amused me and which I hope you will enjoy. Eat Hot Sauce. Live Longer! Longer than what, I ask myself!20130306_142314 20130306_142746

Also Available in Sugar Free. How can this be? These almost look like quilt blocks.

20130306_143855On offer here – fried oreos, fried Reese’s peanut butter cups, funnel cakes and foot long corn dogs! They also had stuffed jalapenos and sugar-free snow cones! Old Town Spring was quite the local tourist destination and it was fun to visit. Thanks again to Carol Ayre and the Woodland Area Quilt Guild for making me so welcome.

Teaching at The Woodlands Area Quilt Guild, Houston

This week I traveled to Houston to give a lecture and teach a workshop at The Woodlands Area Quilt Guild on the north side of Houston, not far from the airport. The quilters gave me a warm welcome and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. Around 120 quilters attended the meeting and before my lecture they installed their new officers and all the members pledged allegiance to the group. I always like the Show and Tell at guild meetings and was particularly impressed by the applique quilts that were shown. The following day, I taught the Bears Come Out at Night workshop, one of my variations on the Bear’s Paw block. Emphasis is on precision piecing and the small Sawtooth Star mini-blocks within the Bear’s Paw blocks can be a little challenging. My students all did well and we had an enjoyable day.

20130307_143253During the day of the lecture, the Program Chair, Carol Ayre took me out for a pleasant walk at the Mercer Botanical Gardens, then we went to Old Town Spring for lunch. Here’s a photo of the local quilt shop, GRS Creations & Fabrics, which they refer to as “The Hidden Fabric Shop”. From the outside it looks very small, but inside, the store extends back and includes several rooms with a large inventory of fabrics. If you are in the area, it’s worth a visit.


Old Town Spring also boasts this supposedly haunted house which is over 100 years old. It has a colorful history as you’ll see from the sign – ranging from a hippy commune to a funeral home and for over 30 years, 200 insect eating bats lived in the attic! The tall screened-in section housed several cooing doves.



As you can see, we had glorious sunny weather and the 70 degree sunshine felt wonderful after the 48 degrees in Seattle. It was a good time of year to visit.