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, 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 booth where I worked doing demos every morning of Market. 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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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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South African Quilt Festival, Bloemfontein 2013, #1

I’ve just returned home after a wonderful month in South Africa, beginning with the 17th National South African Quilt Festival in Bloemfontein. I’ll be writing several blogs about the Festival, where I taught for all six days, made many new quilting friends and enjoyed the outstanding hospitality of the Oranje Kwiltersgilde. The South African Quilters’ Guild hold these Festivals every other year. The location rotates around the country and the event is hosted by the local guilds in the area. Bloemfontein is fairly centrally located in the country, in the Free State about four and a half hours drive southwest of Johannesburg. Festival was held at Eunice High School, while the high school kids were on their winter break and accommodation was at their hostel. I was given a VIP apartment, (rather than the dormitory), with my own little kitchen and bathroom which was very nice.

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The beautiful banner has panels from all 16 of the previous locations of the Quilt Festival. Bloemfontein is the 17th Festival so is the first one on a second banner. The theme of the Festival was Kaleidoscope. They used the motif of a windmill to represent this and decorated beautifully with windmills and Kaleidoscope quilts. This area is farmland and these windmills are all over the place, pumping water for the animals, so it was the perfect theme choice.

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At Quilt Festival there were over 20 teachers and as many as 15 workshops running simultaneously on each of the six days. Some teachers just taught one or two classes and others, like me, had a busier schedule. In addition to the classes, there were lectures during the lunch break, (I did two), a wonderful quilt show and a good variety of vendors. We also had three evening events – a welcome dinner where the teachers were introduced, an awards dinner to celebrate the winning quilts in the show and a wrap-up farewell dinner. Each was catered beautifully and the traditional Afrikaans food was outstanding. At every dinner table there was a lovely center piece continuing this windmill/Kaleidoscope theme. The large glass contained a windmill with rocks and succulent plants, and stood on a Kaleidoscope quilt table runner.

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This area is very Afrikaans and for many of the Quilt Festival Committee, Afrikaans was their first language. Iessie Steenberg, the Chairlady, joked about her difficulty with English, but she was actually very proficient. Much to my embarrassment, she announced to the assembled masses that all the proceedings were in English for my benefit! At the closing farewell, she was quite emotional when thanking her Committee and quipped, “I can cry in English!” Here I am with Iessie, who looked after us so well and we all loved her. I told her, “I can laugh in Afrikaans!”.



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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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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Quilting tools

One of the aspects of teaching that I love is that I learn from my students. Among other things, they introduce me to new quilting gadgets. Here are two little beauties I discovered when I taught a workshop for Quilters Anonymous in May. The first is a Seam-Fix tool.

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It is a combination of a seam ripper and thread eraser. The white plastic tip shaped like a honey utensil picks up those pesky threads that are caught in your fabric when you’ve been unsewing. Simply roll it back and forth applying some pressure over the seam line and the little threads stick to it and come away easily.

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The second tool can be obtained from a hardware store. It is a small wallpaper roller used when applying wall paper to help get the edges to stick down. Here it is being used as a pressing tool and is convenient when you are sewing small pieced sections and you don’t want keep leaping up and down to the iron.

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When this blog posts, I will be in transit on my 26 hour journey to to Africa, flying from Seattle to Amsterdam and then on to Johannesburg. The blogs for the next month, which I’ve written before my departure, will keep coming while I’m away, then I’ll write all about the trip when I come back. I’m excited to be teaching at the 17th National South African Quilt Festival in Bloemfontein, taking in some wildlife and other sights, and then returning to Johannesburg for some more teaching just before I come home at the end of July.

Western Washington Shop Hop

June 19th to June 23rd is a crazy time for quilters in Western Washington. Many go on the annual Shop Hop and drive hundreds of miles to visit all or some of the participating 52 quilt shops. They travel from Vancouver, just across the river from Portland, OR, all the way up the I-5 corridor to Lynden which is practically in Canada, then out west as far as Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula. Each shop designs a special quilt block to give away with one piece of Shop Hop theme fabric, one coordinating fabric, and a fabric of the shop’s choosing.

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The poster shows a quilt containing all the quilt blocks created by the stores, with the theme fabric in the border. This colorful floral fabric was designed especially for the Shop Hop by In The Beginning Fabrics and the coordinating fabrics come from Clothworks Textiles.

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The left picture shows the coordinating prints, and the block with appliqued hexagons designed by Quilted Strait, Port Gamble. The palm tree block on the right was designed by Esther’s Fabrics, Bainbridge Island. I’ll be spending today, (Friday, 21st June), at Quilted Strait demonstrating my template-free Kaleidoscope and Bargello block techniques.  Quilted Strait, this wonderful store in a spacious red barn, is my home base for teaching and they hang several of my quilts in the store on a rotational basis, to promote classes and pattern sales. In these pictures you can see the Ohio Star Lattice – Harvest Stars, my Feathered Star quilt – Brideshead Radiance, and one of my Kaleidoscope Puzzle Quilt – Arctic Spring

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