January 21, 2010

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium

As a traveling quilting teacher, I have occasionally woken up with that "where am I?" feeling. But, I can say, if the wallpaper features candy kisses...

...you are probably at Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, and the event is the Quilt Odyssey. I was very pleased to be on the teaching staff for the 10th anniversary event in July 2009. If you've never been, it is a very nice event. The vendor area has something for everyone but is not overwhelming. There is a very nice quilt show and the class participants were very enthusiastic.

In addition, I got to have a fun dinner and catch up with Jennifer and Dave Kay who were vending. For several years Jennifer was one of my most productive sewing associates. She also frequently traveled with Stacy and me to shows. She and Dave now manufacture Homesteader mid-arm quilting machines and have a very nice computer controlling unit, adaptable to any mid or long arm machine. Here we are with one of the Homesteader machines:

I got to say "Hi" to Chuck Myers. Here he is with one of the Aurifil displays:

Marje was not in the booth. I call Chuck and Marje the Johnny Appleseeds of Aurifil thread. For several years, they have travelled the country doing quilt shows and carrying the full line of Aurifil thread. They have undoubtedly been the first people to introduce many quilters to the wonders of using Aurifil Make cotton threads as well as Aurifil's wonderful wool thread. In full disclosure, as they say on the TV news shows, I am the US Spokesperson for Aurifil, so I especially appreciate their efforts!

A Quilt Shop in Every Port

For those of us who love fabric, we recognize that fabric is a perfect souvenir. When we completed the Alaska cruise this summer I said to Richard, "I have never been on a trip where it was more convenient to stop, shop and buy fabric." Even better, each shop had a slightly different focus. So to benefit all of you who may take an Alaska cruise, I say "be prepared to buy fabric!"

I mentioned Changing Tides in Juneau in a previous post. My favorite part of that store was the Barbara Lavallee designs, but they also feature some other unique Alaska artists' designs as well as being a complete quilt shop and offering cross stitch and yarn.

In Sitka, Abby's Reflection had special fabric just with Sitka designs. A must if you are doing an Alaska memory quilt. There was one non-Alaska fabric I was particularly searching for and even though Abby's Reflection was the smallest of the shops we visited, she was also the one that had the fabric I really needed - and it was on sale! That is why you have to go to every quilt shop on the trip!

Totem poles have always fascinated me and we saw the best ones in Sitka on this trip. Here are Stacy, Jeff and me at a totem pole photo op!'

We did a search to find more totem poles for anyone who would like to see more of them. They're amazing! Check out "Alaska in Pictures".

All of the shops were easy to get to, but The Silver Thimble in Ketchikan was the closest to the dock. Here is a picture looking from the deck to the small shopping mall that houses The Silver Thimble.

During the cruise season they double their store space and house a huge selection of Alaska friendly fabrics. The store is owned by Betty and Bill Gale. Ten years ago when I taught on my first Alaska cruise, we arrived in Ketchikan very early and they kindly opened early for us. Furthermore, one of the local quilters was also a reporter for the local TV station and she came to the shop and interviewed me - what fun! Betty and the crew at the Silver Thimble also specialize in kits of Alaska memory type quilts. If you think the people accompanying you may balk at visiting a quilt shop in every port, but you want one souvenir quilt, this would be the shop that has made it the easiest to buy and buy quickly!

Our ship made one last stop in Victoria, BC. Satin Moon is not as easy to get to as the others, but worth the visit. The store and the Website are both very tourist friendly.

My recommendation is to visit all of the Websites and be prepared for how you are going to include your favorite place to shop at every port on the cruise. Also, the order in which I mentioned shops is from the north going south. Some cruises will stop in the reverse order.

On our previous trip to Alaska, we also toured on land. If you are fortunate enough to get to do the same, there are wonderful quilt shops in Anchorage, Fairbanks and a couple of towns in between! It is a great state for quilt shops as well as unbelievable scenery!

P.S. Does having my name on Beyonce's Website put me one degree away from her name or one degree away from her? Scroll down that page to find Eleanor Levie's book Skinny Quilts and Table Runners. I guess if it's skinny, Beyonce knows about it! :)

I Adore the Art of Barbara Lavallee

Around 10 years ago, Richard and I went on a quilters cruise to Alaska for the first time. I taught on a cruise sponsored by Dee Lynn and Audrey Waite, who also run Quilt Camp in the Pines in Flagstaff, AZ, each summer and quilting in the Desert in Phoenix each January. On that trip to Alaska, I was introduced to the charming art of Barbara Lavallee. I can't look at her work without smiling.

Fast forward to this past summer when I was thrilled to be one of the Featured Artists on the Quilt Camp at Sea Alaska Cruise. Yes, it was during the summer (June 29 - July 5) but who cares that I'm just getting around to some of the stories! It was a perfect trip for our 50th wedding anniversary celebration and our entire family went.

Here Richard and I are enjoying the sun on the desk as we had a glorious day cruising Glacier Bay.

When I read about our first stop in port, I was very pleased to see that Barbara Lavallee would be at Changing Tides quilt shop in Juneau to meet quilters and sign books. It turns out that Jan Nardone, the owner of Changing Tides, has been responsible for making Barbara's designs available in cross stitch and quilt patterns. For more info see www.alaskastitching.com.

On my first trip to Alaska all of my Barbara Lavallee purchases were paper, so I was really pleased to be able to buy fabric items. Here is one of the quilts made from Barbara's designs hanging at the store.

After getting my purchases signed, I asked for a picture with these two lovely and talented ladies. Left to right are Jan, Barbara and me. As we chatted, I discovered Barbara is just as charming as she is talented.

There were over 125 people in our group. Because of tight schedules, I didn't even get to visit with all of the teachers, but here I am with JoAnne Gordon. She was teaching hand applique and loves Aurifil Mako 50/2 so much that she winds bobbins and gives them as handouts in class.

The Barbara Lavallee wallhanging project that JoAnne is holding was very appropriately her class project on the cruise. It's called Eskimo Yo-Yo. If I have my story correct, JoAnne makes many of the original applique designs for photography of the Barbara Lavallee patterns.

Another one of my favorite artists is the painter Rebecca Barker, who was the other featured artist on the cruise. Rebecca's very appealing "quiltscapes" are frequently transformed into calendars, greeting cards and jigsaw puzzles, and I am a frequent purchase of them. It was very nice to get to talk with her. Visit her Website to see why I love her work. www.barkerquiltscapes.com