We’re safely home from our travels for the year, and I’m back in my own sewing room again! Before I forget everything, here’s a quick recap from our travels since September. Okay, it’s not so quick…… make yourself a cuppa and settle in.
The beginning of the tour was a stop to help open a store in Montana – they had just moved and we were able to provide some entertainment to help celebrate the occasion. This appearance was thanks to one of my Block of the Month people (I have 35 people at various stages of making their own version of the Star and Plume quilt!). Mary has been a huge fan, and it was great to meet her there!
Our drive through Michigan started what would be an incredible month of amazing fall colours, thanks to the maple trees turning. This is my favourite time of year, and living on the west coast of Canada means I don’t get to see them as often as I used to.
Our concert in Whitby was at the home of my second cousin, Norah. Her grandfather was my Great Uncle Jim, about whom I wrote the song “My Grandfather’s Brother”. I had brought the signature quilt that was given to him by “grateful parishioners” way back in 1905 in Depot Harbour, Ontario (near Parry Sound), and sang the song. I was very happy that I had several close family members in the audience (I hardly EVER get to sing for them!) It is a very special memory to see the look of joy on my brother’s face as he listened to me sing.
Our next gig was for the Windsor Quilters’ Guild, along with a Mock Mola class. We stayed in the most amazing Log Cabin Quilting Retreats house. There’s a longarm machine in the basement, two whole design walls, and lots of bedrooms. They can sleep 8 for a retreat and provide the most amazing food (a happy addition to any retreat!).
The steps to the basement studio were wonderful – covered with painted quilt blocks on all surfaces!
The Windsor guild is fairly large, and we had to use a sound system to reach the back of the room. I had an avid class for my Mock Mola workshop, and they created some lovely pieces.
We left Windsor to head north for Canadian Thanksgiving, which was on the weekend of October 11th. We celebrated with our friend Gisela and her family, up at her cottage on the French River, just south of Sudbury, helping her close the cottage for the year. We had a WONDERFUL time!!!
The fall colours continued as we journeyed towards Ottawa. We had three shows there. The first was for a seniors’ care facility in the West End; a friend’s mom lives there, and our show was her gift to her mother. The second was for John’s brother Steve, at the Woodlawn community centre. We transformed the sports room into a concert hall! And the third I have already blogged about, when I gave Dean and Ruth one of my quilts.
Our last gig in southern Ontario was at the Lindsay Creative Quilters Guild, just outside of Peterborough. What a big guild! There were about 120 in attendance, and it was a great audience. There’s a new contest in town for people to decorate their homes for Hallowe’en – we saw only a few houses decorated (and it was all in the evening, so I didn’t get any pictures), but when we go back next year, hopefully we’ll see more!
We’ll be back again next year to do a class for them. As soon as they saw my quilts, they all wanted to learn about Mock Mola. With any luck, we’ll again be able to stay again with Sharron and John. She has a quilt shop in her basement, and it was amazing to wake up in the morning and open the door to FABRIC!
We performed at 6 house concerts during this tour. A house concert is like a “real” concert, only better! Someone with a lot of chairs and at least 20 friends throws a party. They are often potlucks, with people bringing what they want to drink. The bonus is: they get a personal concert! We love singing at house concerts – they are very intimate, we meet some lovely people, and we often stay overnight in the house after.
In Sault Ste Marie we were hosted by new friends, but we soon found lots in common with David and Susan, as well as having some wonderful synchronicities with audience members. I sang “My Grandfather’s Brother” and there was someone there who had grown up in Depot Harbour, where the quilt came from! Someone else was a relative of Edna Woods, who was one of the ladies in the “Quilt of Names” story from WWII! The Northern connections were rampant.
From there, we headed further west and north to Dryden Ontario, a place we generally just drive through. This was the first time we’d really stopped there, and I’m glad we did. Our venue was The Centre (Dryden Regional Training and Cultural Centre), which was built to provide multiple functions to this small city. There’s a huge performance hall which can be tailored to almost any size of audience. But for our show, we opted for an acoustic performance in the lobby – it was lovely to sing there, with the vaulted ceiling and glass on two sides.
I also taught two classes for the guild, and had a very enjoyable couple of days with them.
Once in a while we get adventures to go along with our travels. Because we were going to spend another night in Dryden before heading further west, we were invited to the surprise 50th birthday for one of my students – Mary (who made the birch trees in the front row above) – at a hunting and fishing camp just out of town. It was so good to be there, and Mary was very surprised to see us!
We stop in Fort Frances whenever we go through the area, because I have a first cousin who lives there. We last sang for the Cabin Country Quilt Guild way back in 2001, so we had a lot of catching up to do! They put on an amazing display in the lobby of the Zion Lutheran church, and then filled the pews for the concert. It was in Fort Frances that I learned a new term I hadn’t heard before: “dainties”. In Australia, they’re called “slice” or “pudding” or “a plate” (as in “bring a plate”). On the Prairies of Canada, they’re called “dainties” – not-too-large pieces of sweet desserts perfect for après-concert get-togethers. It was very helpful to know about this, as we headed west.
I remember the first time I went on tour from Ottawa heading west back in 1985. I was SOOOO excited that I was finally going to be touring outside of Ontario, and couldn’t WAIT to get into Manitoba and parts west. It took 3 days of long drives before I crossed that provincial boundary. Ontario is a BIG place!
We did a small house concert in Winnipeg for friends. There was some serious show and tell beforehand including one of my students from a few years ago who brought the quilt she made.
Then we headed out into the wilds of southern Manitoba to visit one of Canada’s top quilters and teachers: Judy Morningstar. Judy has been inviting us to stop by for a visit for years now, and finally we had the time to do so. Her enticement was that I could try out her longarm machine! While we were there, she invited a number of quilting friends over for our last house concert on the tour.
The night we arrived Judy and Bill took us off to a country supper in Hartney, a half-hour drive north. This is a prairie tradition, a major fundraiser for the community as well as a great way to see your friends and neighbours. I think everyone was wondering who the heck we were! For a measly $13 we got an incredible turkey and roast beef dinner with lots of salads (including the ubiquitous jellied salad the Prairies are so famous for, thanks to my friend Connie Kaldor’s stories) and PIE! In the fall there are lots of these suppers and everyone goes to all of them. It takes an army of volunteers to carry it off, and community spirit is never stronger than at these events.
The next day was all about quilting. Judy and I started pulling fabric from her substantial stash before breakfast. I decided on an artsy piece using little squares appliqued (by longarm machine) onto a gorgeous hand-day that Judy made.
Before lunch I was happily quilting for the first time on Judy’s longarm. Amazing, fun, fast, effective. No issues at all. Which wall will I tear out of our house to fit this machine? That’s what I want to know…..
The piece was finished by 4pm, just time enough to get cleaned up and get ready for the house concert that evening!
Thanks, Judy for your great instruction and for the chance to raid your stash! I look forward to seeing you again – we promise we’ll stop in next time we’re driving through.
Our last gig on the tour (yes, I’m almost finished this huge missive!) was in Neepawa Manitoba. No, we’d never been there before either. We sang in the Viscount Cultural Centre, in the gallery area, surrounded by the FAN (Fibre Arts Network) touring quilt show. I recognized lots of names of people I know: Correen Zerr, Pippa Moore, Margie Davidson, Brandy Lynn Maslowski – great to see this wonderful work.
For our last gig, we had about 30 from the local guild. They enjoyed themselves (as did we) and gave us our last standing ovation of the tour. It was a great way to finish!
The only snow we saw on the whole tour was the next day, driving out of Manitoba.
We stopped to see Shirley at Shirley’s Sewing Room in Moosomin Saskatchewan as well as Katja at Katja’s Quilt Shoppe in Kamloops. These are two shops (and shop owners) whom we’ve known forever – Shirley tells everyone she knew me before I was the Singing Quilter! Which is true; I was touring Trilogy’s Christmas show when I first met her, a year before I released the first quilting cd. I love both of these shops, and make sure I support them whenever we’re passing through. It was thrilled that Katja was celebrating the release of her first book, and it’s about one of my favourite topics: HEXAGONS!
One last bit of adventure on this trip, and then I’ll stop. We visited Anna Hergert, another famous Canadian quilter and quilt judge, on our way through Saskatchewan. Anna and her husband live in the very beautiful Qu’Appelle Valley, just north of Moose Jaw, and we were delighted to spend a night with them. She has an amazing studio, overlooking the river.
Okay – I think I’m done with the wrap-up. All this happened within a month and a half. Happily, it wasn’t a longer tour! Thank you for reading this far, and I hope I haven’t put you to sleep!