Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Visit to High Prairie

I just got back from a visit to the High Prairie Quilt Guild in northern Alberta. I've never been that far north and it was wonderful to see the sun shining even at 10:30 pm! The weather was warm, the food was deleicious and the quilters were welcoming!
I taught my Shattered Angles class and the students worked hard to produce some exciting blocks.

The blue and pink strip units sparkle. Perhaps Sophia is planning on a table runner?

Melanie used solid colours for the strips and a leaf pattern for her insertion strips.

Colleen chose soft green and blue greens with a lovely blue for the insertion strips.

Karen had fun using pinks and browns....sort of like her top!

 Corinne chose turquoise and gold tinged Asian prints for her Shattered Angles project.
Thanks, ladies for a wonderful visit.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thoughts and More Thoughts about Haiti

Its been a month since my return from our trip to Haiti, and its taken a while to process my thoughts and feelings about my experience.
A bit of background first, I was part of a seven person team from western Canada (Victoria and Vancouver) that went to assist at a home for children and young adults with disabilities. We were under the auspices of the Canadian Foundation for the Children of Haiti http://www.cfchcanada.ca/ and our team consisted of a physiotherapist, an early childhood educator, two nurses (one is my husband), and two women who have extensive experience with Hope Home and the children and then me! My husband has been to Haiti several times and the remainder of the team had made many trips, it was the first time for me and even with my husband along side, I admit to some fears. Foremost I was concerned that I would be useful, I have not spent time around children with disabiltites, I have no medical training and wasn't sure I actually possessed any skills that would be of benefit. Later I understood that indeed my sewing skills would be of immense use!

My sewing machine and "studio" at Hope Home! That little hand cranked Singer could sew as well and maybe even better than my expensive Bernina! Six layers of vinyl was no match for that little workhorse. I spent a lot of time sewing covers for cushions, seat covers for the wheel chairs and covers for the mattresses.

We had each packed two large plastic garbage cans of supplies such as clothing, medicines, toys, food, diapers, bedding, towels and more. These cans were our "checked luggage", our carry-ons contained all our personal items....
We were each responsible for one wheelchair that we took for the children.
I knew it would be hot and humid in Haiti, I have lived in humid climates but had forgotten that 35-40 degree Celsius temperatures mean that you simply cannot work at the same pace as home. Keeping hydrated was important as was looking for shade when outside. Fortunately the weather did cool down a bit at night and when we had electricity, the fans were very welcome.

The news has told us a lot about the deadly and long lasting effects of last years earthquake and we could not move without seeing the truth of that. The tent cities were beyond what I had expected, the conditions were incredible. But one of the women on our team had been in Haiti last November and commented often that the cities were smaller in number and size and construction was going on wherever we went. In fact we saw piles of cement, sand and rebar all along the streets when we went from our lodging to Hope Home.

A distant tent city that was largely deserted.

A "tap-tap", local bus transport around Haiti, highly decorated trucks and jeeps. When the passenger want off the truck, they "tap-tap" on the metal roof.

We stayed in a "guest house" while in Haiti, sort of a private hotel that provided breakfast and dinner, this is common for aid workers and visiting teams. One of the other residents we met was a Haitian nurse who was deeply affected by the earthquake and told us about how many people coped with the tragedy. Visit Rigan's blog http://www.haitinurse.blogspot.com/ and read about his work: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/health_med_fit/article_504d4df0-57b9-11df-a85a-001cc4c002e0.html
I am so thankful that there are people like Rigan in our world.

I was able to play along side some of the children such as this bright little spark:
My local quilt guild and many others supplied bibs for the children at Hope Home and they were paraded in the last day. Many thanks to all our friends who were so generous with their time and talents.

An empty lap was an invitation!

My husband and Peter creating a bed chair (bed on wheels) for one of the children who can no longer sit up due to scoliosis. the bed had been a bunk bed and had the top portion removed. Standard supplies are limited so we made use of what was around us, often remodelling and revamping.

Street vendors are commonplace, selling everything from food and snacks to cell phones and household articles. This women was a moving fabric store.

After a couple of days working at Hope Home our team leader asked me about my feelings. I think I replied that I shifted from feeling that I couldn't leave soon enough and the opposite end of wondering how we could afford to come on a work team every year. Now, after a month, I am looking forward to returning whenever it is possible.
I know that I cannot change the world, but if I can make a small difference in a child's life, then I have been of some use.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Scissor Ramblings......

I'm in the midst of packing for a teaching trip and as I reached for my sewing kit and tucked my scissors in to it, I wondered what you like to use for scissors? How many pairs do you have, what sizes, how often do you have them sharpened and do you have any special "couldn't be without them" kinds?

I have a large pair of dressmaking shears that were my mothers and I love them partly because they were hers and partly because they stay sharp for ages. I dont use them much but I'd be lost without them.

The second pair I have are actually "pizza" scissors.....yes, you read right! They live in my kitchen and they are perfect for cutting pizza instead of a traditional wheel. If you are wondering what they look like:

Progressive Pizza Scissors
Maybe you're wondering what to get the guy who has everything?

Seriously though, I do love several small pairs that I keep misplacing and finding again scattered through the house. I use them for thread and small snipping jobs. And I always have a pair next to me at the sewing machine.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another Shattered Angles Class

Last month I had the privilege of visiting the Stitches from the Heart Quilt Guild in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. It was a very welcoming experience and I met many gracious and talented quilters. They treated me so well, it was a pleasure to be there and I hope they'll invite me back again.
I taught a Shattered Angles class, my Tasters Choice Buffet class ( a little taste of lots of techniques) and presented the "Full Meal Deal" lecture! An exciting weekend.
Here are some pictures form the Shattered Angles class:
The strip units are cut and ready for sewing.

Rich and dramatic colour choices show that every kind of fabric works for this technique.

I think Bonnie likes to use blue in her quilts, always a great choice!

Don't you just love the bright and vibrant batiks?

Heddys and Frances are discussing possible block arrangments.

All the ladies did a super job on their quilts and I'd love to see some pictures of the finished products! thanks for a wonderful teaching experience!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What I Learned at Market

Since I didn't have a booth at Market this spring I enjoyed the freedom of walking the show floor, visiting and networking with fabric companies, pattern designers and more.
I took part in several seminars and I think what I learned there will more than pay for my trip in the near future.
On Saturday I spent a couple of hours learning about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), EMail Marketing, Home Page Web Design, and Facebook and Social Media. Those of you who know me can appreciate that I am not the most tech savvy person and often rely heavily on friends and family. But the company who did the seminars spoke very "un-tech" lingo and explained their point so clearly I was able to take notes and listen at the same time. Hurrah! So having made notes and having some handouts I feel far more prepared to venture forth onto the web and Facebook.
Yesterday I mentioned fresh new designers, young, bright, full of colour and energy. Do take a look at:

Having seen what these designers are doing I'm excited about the future of quilting!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Some Friends at Market

I spent part of the day visiting some friends from previous Markets and making new friends. Its always interesting to compare experiences in this business and discuss trends, ideas and generally uplift and inspire each other.
My first stop was to my Facebook friend, Helen Stubbings of http://www.hugsnkisses.net/ from Australia.

Helen designs patterns that feature words and hand stitching. She has also written a book titled Faux Applique from AQS.

Next I met with a friend from my part of the country, Barbara Cherniwchan of Coach House Designs
http://www.coachhousedesigns.com/ Barbara's patterns feature pieced and appliqued designs and make lovely projects for any quilter. She's here with her friend Marci.

Then I saw Leslie and Susan from Delta, BC and http://favoritethings.net/ Leslie designs wonderful clothing and accessory patterns. Last year they had a cloth diaper pattern that was so cute and super easy to make. I made a couple dozen for my grandson, and they are great.

I also met some Canadians who were vending at Market for the first time. Their patterns are an eclectic mix of scrap and folded patchwork, very inspiring and great for every season of the year. I'm sure they will do very well.

I also spent time walking the show floor and seeing great new fabrics, new designers and notions. While I didn't see any one item that grabbed me and swung me around dancing, I was truly amazed at the large number of young (under 35) pattern and fabric designers with fresh, bright and fun designs that were a refreshing treat. I have great hopes for the future of the industry if they were any indication of what we can look forward to!
More tomorrow!

Friday, May 13, 2011

International Quilt Market

I'm in Salt Lake City attending Quilt Market, visiting friends, seeing fabric, checking out the new products and doing a little bit of buying.
Normally Daphne and I would have a booth to showcase our new patterns, demonstrating for shop owners and meeting with business associates. In the last 6 months we've been focused on writing books and writing magazine articles plus a lot of travelling.
So I'm at Market on my own and experiencing it in a whole different way, I can take more time talking with vendors, investigating new products and getting a sense of the flavor.
I spent this morning in a class with Lesley Riley http://www.lesleyriley.com/ learning about TAP-Transfer Artist Paper......a polymer coated paper that can be run through the ink jet printer for photos, painted and stamped on with inks, distressed and then ironed onto fabric, wood, paper, glass and more. Its a very versatile product and while I've done a bit on my own, its great to learn right from the person who developed the product.
Lesley demonstrates her Transfer Artist Paper

Lesley shows a book that is featured in her upcoming book from C&T Publishing
It will be available next month and is called Create with Transfer Artist Paper

Here are some samples that I made in the class and I'm looking forward to using them in some of my mixed media work!
Tomorrow....meet some of the vendors!