What I’ve been doing

August 28, 2015

I’ve just realized my last blog post was in June!  You must think I’m being very lax in keeping up to date with you.

In fact, I’ve been pretty busy.  John and I had a couple of weeks in Ontario, visiting family and friends, and singing at the International Plowing Match quilt show in Finch Ontario.  It was a great reception by about 100 quilters amid a lovely show.

This was the view from the stage in Finch before we sang - about 100 showed up, as I tried to keep my attention on what I was doing - it's hard to concentrate when there are so many beautiful quilts in front of me!

This was the view from the stage in Finch before we sang – about 100 showed up, as I tried to keep my attention on what I was doing – it was hard to concentrate when there were so many beautiful quilts in front of me!

While we were back in Ontario, we did a lot of summer-in-Ontario things one is meant to do:  attended a play at Stratford, saw a concert at the Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, swam in the Ottawa River, visited Upper Canada Village and generally had a wonderful time.

I also gave away TWO quilts.  One I made for my nephew and his bride – they got married a year ago. They will soon be living back on Vancouver Island, and both asked for a quilt featuring an arbutus tree (in the US they’re called madronas). I learned a lot making this quilt and I’m very happy with how it turned out. It’s a wall hanging.

This quilt is called "Embrace".

This quilt is called “Embrace”.

We took a special side trip to Parry Sound to present the James Miller quilt (that I wrote about in the song “My Grandfather’s Brother”) to the museum there.  This is a significant historical item from Depot Harbour – now a ghost town nearby. It was made in 1905, so it’s in very delicate condition. They will take very good care of it there, and I was thrilled to hear that they plan to use it as the cornerstone of an exhibit about Depot Harbour at some point in the next 3 years!

This is the quilt, me and Nadine Hammond, the curator of the museum.

This is the quilt, me and Nadine Hammond, the curator of the museum.

Now that we’re home again, it’s all about the final approach to the Aloha Quilt Cruise with Brandy Lynn Maslowski. We embark on September 19th in Vancouver and return to Vancouver on October 4th.  That’s FIFTEEN days on board, and visits to four of the Hawaiian islands.  There are eight days of classes on this cruise, as well as opening and closing concerts/ trunk shows and show and tell opportunities. Yes, I’ll be writing a song with the non-quilters aboard as well (shhh – it’s a secret!)

These are some of the hand-dyes I've been making for one of my cruise classes.

These are some of the hand-dyes I’ve been making for one of my cruise classes.

When I return from the cruise, I’ll have one night home before John and I load the car and head out for a 7 week tour of California and Texas.  The full itinerary is on the website www.singingquilter.com.  Will we see you at some point in our travels?

Necessity is the Mother of Invention – Light Box!

June 26, 2015

Sometimes you just need a certain tool to do a project.  It’s specific to the job at hand and you know they make it.  Maybe you’d be lucky to find one in town, at an affordable price, but you know it’s not going to get a lot of use, and besides: you need it NOW!

I’m back to work on my next quilt – it’s a wedding quilt for my nephew who married his sweetheart almost a year ago.  I gave them a gift and asked them if they wanted a quilt as well.  They enthusiastically said yes!  They were very specific what they wanted – a wall hanging of a West Coast scene with ocean, mountains, sky, sun and an arbutus tree (also known south of the border as madrona) in the foreground.  I have it mostly designed now and today I started in on it.

Here's the design all drawn on freezer paper.

Here’s the design all drawn on freezer paper. There are lots of little registration lines as well as the design here. It’s about 36″ wide.

I’m using a technique developed by Caryl Bryer Fallert Gentry called “Applipiecing” which she uses for a good many of her quilts.  Basically, you cut out your templates from the freezer paper, attach the fabric, turn in one edge of it (using spray starch), and zig zag it together again.  I’m doing most of the quilt this way.  It’s pretty important to be able to see all the registration lines through the fabric to fit it together again, and I was having to hold it up to the ceiling light – it wasn’t working at all!

I needed a Light Box!

I’ve been coveting one for a while now, but surely there was a way to do it quickly, easily, and with what I already had?  How hard could it be?

I got a neck light from Ami Simms when we visited her in the spring; I use it at night when I’m working on my hexagons. It’s really really bright and really really small.

This is the Sew Easy neck light. It uses two AA batteries.

This is the Sew Easy neck light. It uses two AA batteries. It illuminates like full daylight when it’s turned on.

I found a small plastic box I was using to store stuff and emptied it out, turned it over, put the light underneath and VOILA!  A perfect light box for my project!

Here's the design all drawn on freezer paper.

My new light box!

I can see my registration lines through the fabric now.

I can see my registration lines through the fabric now.

I’m going to let Ami Simms know about this – I just know she’s going to be able to sell a whole bunch more of these lights when they find out about this!

And here’s how far I got today on this project.  The ocean is just over half done.  This won’t take long at all, at this rate!

002 piecing ocean

More pictures to come!

New Block of the Month about to start!

May 5, 2015
Star and Plume quilt

Star and Plume quilt

If you’ve seen us perform in the last 10 years, you’ve likely seen this quilt.  It’s called the Star and Plume, and has 48 blocks to tell the story of Sunbonnet Sue’s encounter with a scary “slasher” guy. She ends up “outgunning” him and they live happily ever after.  The song I wrote to tell this story uses 48 quilt block names to tell it, and a number of people over the years wanted to make it too.  Two years ago I started the first Block of the Month for the Star and Plume, and the first group has finished up.  (I’m still waiting to see their finished quilts!!!).

Now that I have nothing to do on the first of every month – AND because I keep receiving requests to get in on the BOM – I’m starting it again on JUNE 1st.

For $5 a month, you will receive two patterns in your Inbox. At the end of 24 months (if you keep up to date, of course!) you’ll have a finished quilt!  The quilt measures 68″ x 90″ and can easily get a border added to make it fit a queen sized bed.

I consider this an excellent learning quilt – not your beginner sampler quilt! Techniques covered include: basic piecing, half- and quarter-square triangles, paper foundation piecing, curved piecing, diamonds, machine and hand applique, and English Paper Piecing. The blocks are sent out from easy to challenging, so that your skills build with each block.

If you’re interested in finding out more, please visit the website and go to the “NEW! Block of the Month” tab on the left hand side.

Approaching Paducah!

April 21, 2015

John and I are on the road again for our spring tour. We have done a few shows already, and are on track to land in Paducah tomorrow for the American Quilters Society QuiltWeek.  It’s my first time singing and teaching at the show, and I’m very excited!

We left home on April 1st and drove across Canada to Ontario to do a class in Lindsay.  Here’s what they did in the day-long class.  Beautiful work!

The Mock Mola class in Lindsay Ontario

The Mock Mola class in Lindsay Ontario

From there, we crossed the border and sang in Grand Haven Michigan (beautiful spot – would love to see it in the summer!).  We drove up to La Crosse Wisconsin the next day to attend a concert by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – a group we’ve been fans of for years, thanks to their YouTube videos.

When in Rome…… or in Wisconsin, one must stop at a cheese shop, and I found some TWELVE year old cheddar there.  Very yummy (it’s almost gone now). While we were in the shop, John couldn’t resist the lure of the Cheeseheads…..

Cheesehead John

Cheesehead John

Then back to Flint Michigan to see our friend Ami Simms, and sing for her guild there.  it was a great evening – fantastic show and tell! Before the meeting started, though, I was invited outside to see a magnificent crazy quilt in the back of a car – it all felt very hush-hush, but really it was because she had shown it the month before. No photograph will ever capture the amazing chock-a-block embroidery on this quilt.  Every inch had something wonderful filling the space.

Kathleen's crazy quilt

Kathleen’s crazy quilt

It was lovely to spend time with Ami, and we did a bit of “retail therapy” in the fabric shop while I was there! While I always prefer to shop in quilt stores on our travels, it is sometime useful to pop into the big stores, and this was one of those times.  Joann Fabrics had an amazing sale:  Fat quarters for $.75 each!  I’m afraid the car is quite a bit heavier now with my purchases from that night…..

So next on our agenda is four days in Paducah Kentucky.  We have attended the show twice before, but this is the first time we’ll have sung and taught there.  I am beyond excited about it!

We start tomorrow (Tuesday) with a 10 minute demonstration of Lucy Boston hexagons at the All Star Review (1-3pm at the Eisenhower Room).

On Wednesday we’ll be at the Paper Pieces studio (formerly Caryl Bryer-Fallert-Gentry’s studio) for a “Meet and Greet” at 2pm.  It’s because of them that we’re here, and I’m excited to see how they have transformed Caryl’s masterpiece which we toured last year and made it their own.  Wednesday night I’ll be teaching a Notan Class (it was sold out in January!).

Thursday will be a big day.  At 1pm we’ll be (weather permitting) singing on the front lawn of the American Quilt Museum. This concert is sponsored by our friends at Paper Pieces and I’ll be singing my song “Paducah” from the CD “In the Heart of a Quilt” for the first time live. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll move indoors to the Museum.  That evening I teach a Mock Mola class.

Finishing off on Friday with a 2pm “Meet and Greet” at Paper Pieces again.

As a side note: I’m currently running a “Notan-a-Day” challenge on my Facebook Page. There are a few of us participating, and some of the Notans being shown are stunning.  It’s not too late to jump in with your own, or just come for a look at the work.

I’m going to try to keep you posted on the goings-on at Paducah, in case you can’t attend this year.  It’s going to be a busy time, but I hope to have a few minutes to let you know what’s happening.

April: Notan a Day Challenge!!!

March 27, 2015

Quite a few years ago on my Facebook page, I challenged anyone who wanted to join me in a Notan-a-Day.  It’s all done on paper with scissors. We took pictures and uploaded it to the site.

A Notan design on paper.

A Notan design on paper.

It was so much fun, I wanted to do it again!

I’ve been teaching this design technique since then and everyone has such a good time with it.  It takes only a few minutes to do this because it’s all done on paper! Here are the rules:

1. Take a piece of paper, any shape (I usually find square, rectangular or triangular work best, but you can also try circles – it’s different)

2.  Fold the paper for symmetrical designs, do not fold for asymmetrical designs.

3. Cut shapes from the edges and flip them over so that the edge of the cut piece lines up with the edge of the original shape. DO NOT CUT AWAY A CORNER (or if you want to, try it and see what happens!) You should always be able to see the original shape in the finished design.


5. Take a picture. (I usually try to take it from above so that you can see the design clearly.)  Compress it so it isn’t a huge file and upload it to the Singing Quilter Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Singing-Quilter/59712236960?ref=bookmarks (you do have to belong to Facebook to do this).

Try to fill the negative space with cuts, and that can include multiple cuts, like the one below.

Spitfire Notan with 7 layers.

Spitfire Notan with 7 layers.

Who’s with me?  I’ll be on tour, so if I can do it, you can too!

Here’s my latest quilt, an asymmetrical Notan design. I designed this during the last Notan challenge.



Serendipity: Peshtigo Fire Quilt

March 25, 2015

Everyone has a “small world” story, or an amazing example of serendipity.  I love these stories, when a series of random decisions bring two people together who absolutely need to meet. One of my favourites involves the god-daughter of very close friends in Adelaide Australia, her last night in North America, me not wanting to cook dinner in our RV in Yosemite Park in California (in February!), her wearing sweat pants with “UBC” on the backside, and our address and phone number in her book. I’ll tell you that story in full sometime……

Those of you who know me have heard me say that the “meat and potatoes” of what I do is discovering actual historic stories of quilts that changed lives.   The Wisconsin quilt that was used to protect the train engineer as he transported townsfolk to Lake Michigan during the fire in Peshtigo (still the worst disaster in American history) is one of those amazing stories. I wrote about it in 2004 and it’s on the “A Quilter’s World” cd. By wetting the quilt down, and wrapping it around himself, he was able to keep himself safe as he saved many people’s lives on that horrific day.

I had been in touch with the owner of the quilt via mail to get permission to use the photograph on the CD package, but had never met her.  We have just returned from Wisconsin, singing in Oshkosh as well as Kenosha, and it was there I was able to finally meet Elinor.

Just before I was to start teaching two back-to-back one-hour classes at the quilt expo, two women came into my room.  The lead woman told me there was someone I had to meet: Elinor!

She had been standing in the lunch line beside Elinor, who hadn’t been to our concert the night before. She told Elinor about the show and songs, including the Peshtigo Fire quilt song that I sang (because we were in Wisconsin!).  Elinor knew the story VERY well – because she owns the quilt!

They didn’t know where to find me – but right beside them in line was someone who had signed up for my class, and she told them the room number.  And so, that’s how they showed up.  It was wonderful!

Elinor and me in Oshkosh

Elinor and me in Oshkosh

The next day John and I were heading for Racine for our next performance.  We had oodles of time, and decided to drive a bit out of our way to visit Elinor and see the quilt.

It’s quite large, and obviously someone got a bigger bed, because they added an extra strip along one edge.  It’s all wool, in wonderful shape, considering that it’s from the 1870s.  There is only one fabric that is in strings. The rest are fine.  It’s heavy!

003 Peshtigo fire quilt and Elinor small

Elinor bought this quilt from a member of the family of the engineer.  Amazingly enough, the steam engine that he used to ferry the people to safety had MELTED by the end of the fire, but the quilt survived!

I love my life.

I’ve been busy in Hawaii

March 7, 2015

I just realized I haven’t done a blog posting since January 21st!!  That’s a long time ago.  May I just say I’ve been busy? Let’s start with Hawaii!

John and I attended the Quilt Passions Quilting on the Beach retreat in February. It’s hosted every year by Karen and Robert Berry at the quilt shop in Kona, Hawaii and I’ll go any time they want me again!  This is just the BEST WAY to make a living!!!

The opening of the retreat was held just outside the King Kamehamea Hotel on the lawn by the sea.  They had some wonderful young hula dancers to welcome us.

Two young hula dancers entertained us.

Two young hula dancers entertained us.

Karen had asked me to contribute some guitar to their version of The Quilters (the play) during the retreat. I’ve only seen this play once before, and I remembered the music to be very challenging.  In fact, it’s the SINGING that is challenging in this score – the guitar part was quite easy (no Eb chords or anything strange).  It was a play reading, so everyone sat at their place for the most part and read and sang from there.  That being said, there had been a huge amount of work put into this, and they all did a great job.  The harmonies were great, and I even shed a tear here and there with the poignancy of the stories they told.  I hope it wasn’t obvious to the audience!  This is the view I had of the gals in the cast.  Thanks for letting me be a part of it! I do so miss doing theatre.

001 cast of The Quilters small

The cast of The Quilters

I still had lots of time to experience Kona, and one of the days John and I took a tour around the Kona Energy Lab.  Fascinating to learn about using water from very deep in the ocean to generate power, and conduct many many scientific experiments. We stopped for lunch at a cafe after visiting the abalone farm and meeting some grouper fish.  Check out the menu below (Sonia’s and Lionel’s especially).  I’ll be you won’t find Spam on your breakfast menu at home!


009 spam on the menu small

Rice and Spam seem to be breakfast staples.

We had some more time before my classes started and we explored some beaches with our new friends Pam and Rick Bocko. They are from Eugene Oregon and we had a great time with them!  This was one of our secluded spots where we did some wave jumping.



015 on the beach small


I taught Mock Mola as well as Hand Mola at the retreat, and we were almost beachside at the hotel.  Here’s what we looked at when we wandered out for lunch every day. The mountain wasn’t always shrouded in clouds, but it was always warm enough for a swim.   In fact, my fellow teacher Rob Appel, went snorkeling during his lunch break every day!


039 lunch outside of the teaching room small

My classes went very well.  There wasn’t much to see at the end of the Hand Mola class (although Nora has now completed hers!), but here’s what they created during the Mock Mola class the next day.  I loved their design ideas!

053 group shot small

Mock Mola Class at Quilting on the Beach


My good friend Daphne Greig was there too and has been blogging about her trip to Hawaii, but I really didn’t see her after the opening reception.  We were all kept busy having fun!

I told you about our new friends, Pam and Rick Bocko.  Pam runs Pieceful Designs and makes really lovely, quick wall quilt patterns – you may have seen her at a quilt show near you.  I love them – they’re charming and fun. Rick is, among other things, a ukulele player (although he bought a new guitar while they were there, so he’s adding a couple of extra strings to his repertoire). We had a wonderful time with them and laughed a LOT.

021 Pam and Rick small

This was taken after the breakfast ukulele jam session. Imagine: musicians getting up early to play!

When we finished with the retreat, John and I spent another week on the Island, doing some exploring.  I’ll be back in late September on the 2015 Aloha Quilt Cruise, so I wanted to find out a little more about the Hilo side.  We won’t be stopping in Kona, alas.

It’s much wetter on the east side of the island, and the flora reflects this extra moisture.  As soon as we crossed over from the rain shadow, things started getting lusher.  Rainforest conditions with ferns and trees and vines and flowers everywhere!  Did you know that the Big Island of Hawaii has all but 2 of the world’s growing zones?  Between the desert (west) side and the wet (east) side, and everything from sea level to the top of Mauna Kea (13,796 feet/4205 metres), you can pretty much grow whatever you want there. There’s ranchland grazing, cactus, coffee, fruit, sugar, etc, etc. It was one of the reasons I wanted to return last year to the Island, to explore it more.

And there are waterfalls – this one is Akaka Falls which is 400 feet tall – higher than Niagara Falls, to be sure!

024 Akaka Falls 400 feet tall small

Akaka Falls

South of Hilo is where all the volcanic action is happening too – there are vast lava fields everywhere on the island, but the newest land is in the southeast.  We saw some smoke rising from Kilauea while we were there, but nothing flowing into the sea.

We drove a most spectacular drive down from there – a road called the Chain of Craters Road.  It’s in the national park, and it is well worth the trip.  On the way we saw lots of evidence of previous eruptions – lots of craters and lava.  On our way down the hill to the ocean, there was an incredible view where the lava flowed down from above.  Nothing is growing on that side yet, and there are vast vistas of nothing but black lava.  We took a hike over it to see some Petroglyphs.



038 petroglyphs small

And got to the end of the road.

048 at the end of the road small

The end of the Road

I did have a traditional Hawaiian breakfast (with some international content) on our last morning there – Karen made us Danish pancakes called Aebleskivers withLilikoi (passion fruit) syrup, Spam, fresh pineapple, Kona coffee and POG juice served in a hollowed out pineapple.  Wow. Only in Hawaii!

003 last breakfast small

A huge Mahalo to Karen and Robert for inviting us to come to the retreat, and for the loan of the snorkel gear and for showing us the best of their adopted island.

I’ll be going back, as I mentioned above, in September.  I’ve checked out some of the local quilt shops on the east side of the island, and I have recommendations of things to do there.  I’m very excited about it.  Would you like to join me?  Check out www.alohaquiltcruise.wordpress.com to find out more.

I’ll continue with my update in my next posting.



A Worthy Endeavour for 2015

January 21, 2015

Our quilt guild organized a studio tour of some of our members’ sewing rooms a few years ago.  One of the most exciting and prolific members opened up her cupboards to reveal that she had the world’s smallest stash – just a small pile of neatly folded fabrics in a small cupboard.  There were quilts everywhere, and a great many small wall hangings for sale. But no stash! I couldn’t believe it.

Lenny's stash - that's it!

Lenny’s stash – that’s all of it!

In my sewing room cupboards I have piles of old shirts, denim jeans, and old batting off cuts (too big to throw away, too small to use for a quilt). I have a bunch of unsuccessful quilt blocks from classes or experiments from years ago. I have kept yards and yards of selvages, and any piece of fabric that will cut a 1 1/2″ square. I’m not QUITE a hoarder, but I do hate throwing useful things out.  People give me old cotton clothing when they are downsizing.  It is overwhelming to open the cupboard door. Sound familiar?

I’ve been noticing lately that many of us are working from our stashes.  The stash busting started a few years ago with the Global Financial Crisis, I think – when we stopped buying so much new fabric.  Now we’re trolling not only our sewing rooms for fabric that we may have bought in better times and forgotten about, but also consignment stores for cotton clothing that we can cut down into quilts.  Happily, not everyone is doing this, or we wouldn’t have any quilt shops left!

At last week’s quilting retreat I used up some old ugly fabric (that chunk of Millenium fabric I bought in 1999 intending to make a 2000 piece charm quilt, and a skirt someone gave me because it was cotton, for example) on oven mitts that are bound for Ecuador with a friend who goes with a dental team to small villages there.  Her job is to sterilize the equipment and she is always burning her arms taking the trays out of the sterilizer. I also used up some of that leftover cotton batting (you know you can piece batting, don’t you?).  She didn’t care what they looked like and I was thrilled to be able to get this fabric I have no other use for out of my stash, and reduce the size of the bags in my cupboard.

Seven pairs of oven mitts bound for Ecuador.

Seven pairs of oven mitts bound for Ecuador.

I need to do more of this.  There’s a theory in the retail world that if you put a lower price on things, you can move the stock more quickly and replace it with something new.  I see this in some fabric shops – I’m thinking about places like Marden’s in Maine, where you can often find fabric for $5 and less per yard – and they get it. There are always new fabrics coming in and that keeps people coming back regularly.

What if we kept that in mind with our own stashes?

But it’s not only for the old ugly fabric. Two years ago I challenged two friends to make ten pieces each for a group art show we did last February/March.  One of my own challenges was to use up some of that “holy” fabric in my stash – too beautiful to use.  I gave myself permission to use anything I wanted on these pieces.  It was very freeing. I started in on my hand-dye bin and kept going.  That gorgeous piece of teal hand dye that I’ve been fondling for several years turned into this:



I can’t think of a better use for it!

What about all that denim I’ve been collecting?  I have two stacks of denim quilts blocks that I’ve put together for the next call for flood/fire/devastation quilts.  I must put them together one of these days and get them out of the house.

And the old blocks – not even UFOs because you’ll never finish them?  A few months ago my friend Wenche asked if we had any quilts we could donate for a local Alzheimers’ fundraiser.  I had just done a cleanout of my studio and offered my old blocks.  She took a couple and made wall hangings for the fundraiser!  Blocks that I couldn’t see any future for became colourful gorgeous wall hangings.

Wenche made with my block 1 Wenche made with my block 2

If I clear out some room, I’ll be able to fill it up with even more beautiful fabric!  And I won’t feel so overwhelmed with the piles of projects and little baggies of STUFF that are everywhere. Sometimes it takes some creativity to figure out what you’ll do with all of it, but there are ways – otherwise, why have you been keeping it? There are lots of books with patterns using scraps (although I think some people’s “scraps” are significantly larger than mine……), and lots of ways to use up old thread, binding, batting, etc.

I still go to the quilt shop – usually for specific projects or to replace a colour I am running short of.  But I MUST clear out my sewing room so it feels like a workable place. I think it’s a worthy endeavour for 2015.

Are you with me?  Do you have any good ideas?  Feel free to share in the comments.  I’d love to hear about them!

New Quilting Cruise Announced!!!

December 17, 2014

2009 Hawaii Iao Valley

Guess where I’m going next September?  I’ll give you a few hints:

1. It’s warm.

2. It’s beautiful.

3. There’s a boat involved.

4. There are palm trees and hibiscus and monstera deliciosa and frangipani.

5. We’ll have sewing machines.

Give up?


The 2015 Aloha Quilting Cruise will depart from Vancouver BC on September 19th 2015 and ply the seas to the Islands of Hawaii and then come back to Vancouver.  For 15 days, we’ll enjoy life aboard the ms. Star Princess and let the 1200 staff aboard cater to our every wish.  That, and it includes EIGHT DAYS of quilting!

I’m pairing up with Brandy Lynn Maslowski for this cruise. Brandy Lynn is an energetic and fun teacher, and host of Canadian Quilt Talk. We have some very exciting new classes planned for you. I’ll be doing a furtherance of the Mock Mola class, and an overview of the State of the Hexes – two of my very favourite passions!  Brandy Lynn has some very interesting artsy classes planned, too. I’ll be bringing my guitar (of course!) and will be writing at least one new song aboard, maybe even with you!

Brandy Lynn is in the middle of securing sponsorships for this cruise, and she has confirmed that we will have sewing machines, thanks to Janome, and lots of thread, thanks to Aurifil.

We’ll be announcing our classes soon.  To keep up to date on developments please visit the new blog: Aloha Quilt Cruise.  You can sign up to Follow this blog so that you get regular email updates on our plans.

This is a great idea if someone in your life wanted to give you a last-minute Christmas present (and they can come too!)

Our Fall Tour

November 22, 2014

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!

Mary took a good look at the original Star and Plume quilt while we were there.

Mary took a good look at the original Star and Plume quilt while we were 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.

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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.

My cousin Norah and I with her grandfather's quilt.

My cousin Norah and I with her grandfather’s quilt.

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!).

Emeryville quilt retreat

Emeryville quilt retreat

The steps to the basement studio were wonderful – covered with painted quilt blocks on all surfaces!

014 Emeryville stairs small

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.

Terry's Dragon

Terry’s Dragon, not quite finished.

I love the wonky bricks!

I love these wonky bricks!

A mandala from the symbol for Mother.

A mandala from the symbol for Mother.

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Love these swirls! All done and ready to bind.

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!

Lindsay Creative Quilters Guild

Lindsay Creative Quilters Guild

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.

Lobby at The Centre in Dryden

Lobby at The Centre in Dryden

I also taught two classes for the guild, and had a very enjoyable couple of days with them.

The Mock Mola class - the red and white quilt is 2-sided!

The Mock Mola class – the red and white quilt is 2-sided. Both the sun and the pumpkin (2nd row) used 3 colours.

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!

Here's Mary cutting her birthday cake!

Here’s Mary cutting her birthday cake!

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.

John here with a couple of early arrivers, looking at all the quilts!

John here with a couple of early arrivals, looking at all the quilts!

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.

Leona brought her piece to show me.

Leona brought her piece to show me in Winnipeg.

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Marg Moore showed her award-winning coat.

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A gorgeous Stack and Whack wall hanging.


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.

One wall of Judy's stash - impressive!

One wall of Judy’s stash – impressive!

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…..

I actually look like I know what I'm doing!!!

I actually look like I know what I’m doing!!!

The piece was finished by 4pm, just time enough to get cleaned up and get ready for the house concert that evening!

Judy and her new student.

Judy and her new student.

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.

Part of the FAN exhibit in Neepawa

Part of the FAN exhibit in Neepawa

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.

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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!

Katja with her new book

Katja with her new book – The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece

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.

Anna Hergert's studio

Anna Hergert’s studio

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!


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