ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Friday, March 30, 2012

Teacher on Wheels: My Travels to the Greater Toronto Area

Summer arrived in the Greater Toronto Area while I was there, and so did every other of the four seasons.  Crocuses and a heat wave are very unusual in March, but we experienced that and much more!  And yes, t'is true, since I started having knee problems at the end of January, I am now the official "Teacher on Wheels". I managed to deliver all my workshops over the past two weeks by doing so from an office chair on wheels. It is a great way to get around that doesn't require one to stand all day. But I am most definitely NOT amused that our conservative government just passed a bill to raise the age for receiving OAS (old age security) pension to the age of 67! I am really not sure my knees will last another 17 years! And they are definitely needed to travel and transport my quilts, teaching materials, and hand-dyed fabrics.

My 15 day trip included Toronto, Brampton, Cookstown, Orangeville, Gwillimbury, and Newmarket. In my mind I think of them all as being in the "Greater Toronto Area", although places like Orangeville and Cookstown, and even Gwillimbury, have a most decidedly country feeling to them, and are far north of the metropolitan area of Toronto. A country girl at heart, I was glad for a bit of a reprieve to these quieter places.

I began my trip on March 14 with a lecture for the Yorkshire Rose Quilt Guild on the east side of Toronto. Panic set in when I arrived and unpacked my digital projector, only to find there was no power cord or remote control in my bag. The last time I saw them was in Newfoundland, so I can only assume I left them behind. Fortunately I arrived nearly an hour early for the lecture so Carolyn was able to skip down the street to the Source, and found a power cord that fit my projector. What a relief, as I had 4 lectures to deliver on this trip! I was billetted that night at the lovely home of Anne McAllister (that's Anne at the left in front of podium).
The day after the lecture, my husband arrived in Toronto and we spent the next two days there, exploring Asian restaurants, visiting G&S Dye, and making a little trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Saturday I delivered my "Beyond Stippling, Part 1" free-motion machine quilting class to the Yorkshire Rose Guild. This photo was taken at the end of the day, after a couple of students had already snuck out.
I will be back visiting this guild in March 2013 to deliver my advanced free-motion class, "Beyond Stippling, Part 2". This will be the third year I've visited Yorkshire Rose Guild. Last year I taught my "In Full Bloom" class, and was pleased when Karen brought her almost-finished poppy to this year's class.
As you can see from from the centre shot, she is an experienced free-motion quilter!

Saturday night after the class I drove to Waterloo to spend a few days with my sister. At that point the temperatures started rising, we had a heat wave, and the crocuses were in full bloom!  By the end of the 15 day trip I had experienced nearly all of the four seasons!

Next I headed to Brampton to deliver a trunk show for the Brampton Quilters Guild. Oh I should mention that on the way to my trunk show I had the wonderful opportunity to meet my on-line friend Carolynn and her husband, Bruce, in Mississauga for lunch. I totally forgot to take my camera to lunch. I did capture a shot of the Brampton Quilters Guild a bit later.
That night I was billetted at the home of Cathy Willoughby, her husband and her three adorable felines. Below is Cathy (seated) selling my hand-dyed fabrics.
But you know the drill: I always feature the felines I meet in my travels. Here they are:
Tiki, who guards the microwave oven:
The seemingly laid-back Hunter:
and the always-up-to-something Harrison:

The next day I headed to Cookstown to teach at the Country Concessions Quilt Shop for two days.  Because we had about 18 students in each class, the workshops were held in the basement of the church across the street.  Country Concessions is a beautiful quilt shop with gorgeous fabric. You can see students starting to build their up-close florals in my "In Full Bloom" class.

That night I stayed at Gramma's House B&B in Alliston.  Gramma took great care of me!

Day 2's classes were "Free-Form Curves" and "Liberated Applique". Below free-hand cut curves are being pieced.

Kathleen finished her piecing and her liberated applique and was already starting to machine quilt her piece.

That night I headed to Orangeville where I stayed at the Irvine House B&B.  Another lovely B&B where I was spoiled by the owner, Helen.
Sunday morning it was off to teach "In Full Bloom" to the Dufferin Piecemakers in Orangeville.

That night I headed to Aurora, where I stayed with Joan Levert and her husband during my lectures with the Gwillimbury Quilt Guild and the Region of York Quilt Guild. Joan graciously opened her home for four nights, as there was a bit of a gap between the two bookings. She took very good care of me! The Gwillimbury Quilt Guild is a small guild of mostly-retired women who meet during the day. I could feel the relaxed and fun vibes of these women and they went into a bit of a frenzy shopping from my travelling store. Joan (my billet) is the one on the left facing the camera.

On my last night I gave a lecture to the Region of York Quilters Guild in Newmarket.

Thank you to everyone on this trip for your help transporting my quilts, hand-dyed fabrics and teaching materials. You made my trip so much less stressful knowing that there was help so that I wouldn't strain my knee. The good news is that my knee is doing better than it was when I left for Toronto on March 14. Let's hope it continues to improve!  See you in the Greater Toronto area next March (2013)!

I'm off to teach "Beyond Stippling, Part 1", free-motion machine quilting tomorrow at the Country Quilter in Richmond, Ontario and will be heading to Renfrew, Ontario to teach for two days on Wednesday and Thursday for the Renfrew Quilters Guild.

Announcing "The Natural World" Book Give-away

I just returned last night after my 15 day teaching and lecturing trip to the Greater Toronto area. Waiting for me when I got home was a few copies of "Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World". You've heard me talk about this book for a while, and I can tell you it is gorgeous! Given that nature is my muse, of course I would find a book on the natural world gorgeous! However, this book contains works by some of my favorite artists! I am also one of the 19 artists featured in the book. The others are: Judith Trager, Paula Chung, Ginny Smith, Ginny Eckley, Sally Dillon, Karen Miller, Cassandra Williams, Betty Busby, Annie Helmericks-Louder, Dominie Nash, Katherine Allen, Annemieke Main, Melani Brewer, Ruth McDowell, Dottie Moore, Nancy G. Cook, Barbara Barick-McKie and Patricia Gould. Each artist has a 6-page spread, with photos and an interview. Martha Sielman interviewed each artist in depth, and it is clear she took the time to research the work of each artist as the questions are very specific to each individual.

I was also pleased to find two photos of my work on the back cover of the book (upper right and lower left)!

Here's a sneak peek at the first two pages of the section about me. Even though it isn't my favorite work, they really seem to have liked that tree, as they printed it large and used it on the back cover.

I will be blogging about my Toronto trip shortly. I do want to say thank you to a couple of readers who wrote to ask if I was OK, since I haven't written for so long. I am actually in better shape than when I left!

Today I am giving away a copy of "Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World" to the first person who posts a comment to my blog.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Latest / More Student Work

Today I got a free haircut. Well not exactly free. Last week I gave a second lesson to my young hairdresser to help her make a quilt for her toddler. We are doing a knowledge exchange, trading services on an hourly basis. Hmmm ... now if only my massage therapist needed some quilting lessons!

A box of about 30 copies of the free sample issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited arrived today. This is the special issue I mentioned in my previous blog post. MQU will use it as a promotional issue to give away at shows throughout the US, and it is available for download on your computer if you sign up for their e-newsletter. What a fantastic promotional opportunity this is for me, as my article is prominently placed near the front of the magazine and will be seen by many readers who might not ever read the magazine. Hopefully this will help me to continue doing what I do for a living. The more exposure, the more teaching invitations.

The magazine will make great door prizes at lectures and workshops, so I will be sure to take a good number of copies with me on my teaching trip to the Greater Toronto Area next week. The best part is that even if you don't win an actual magazine, you can still access it by downloading the issue on your computer.

My knee continues to be a challenge. I've been icing 4X a day, going to physiotherapy 2X week, and doing leg strengthening exercises daily. This leaves me little time for anything else ;-)) But there is still clearly something wrong with it, given the clicking, catching and locking. My physiotherapist thinks that I may have a torn meniscus in addition to arthritis. We won't know for sure until my MRI in April. I am continuing to do what I usually do, but doing it sitting down.

Last week I dyed about 120 meters of fabric. Given the brisk sales in St. John's, NL and Yellowknife, NT, I needed to stock up my store in preparation for the Toronto area. So far I've ironed 100 meters and have another 20 to go. After that I will need to cut many of them into fat quarters and bundle and label some of them. Of course I am doing the ironing sitting down too, and I'll be teaching from a chair on wheels throughout my Toronto trip.

I set up a card table in my basement, and folded an older shower curtain over it to protect it. I sat there on a stool to mix all my dyes and dye the fabric.
As I dyed the pieces I moved the containers over to the top of my washer and dryer (which is where I usually do my dyeing). The sink was close at hand when I needed it, but a lot of the time I kept a pail of water beside me to wash hands between colours. The stool was a perfect height for the sink when it came time to rinse.
Here is my dye shelf, organized by colour.

This past week I was delighted to receive several photos of recently completed student works.

First came M.R. Charbonneau's (Quilt Matters) tulip. While M.R. did not make this work in my class, she used the very same collage method that she learned in my Collage Tree class. You can read about the making of this work on her blog. I love when students take a method and run with it. I adore the way M.R. has taken a cool purple tulip and placed it on a warm purple background. It absolutely sings!

Heather forwarded a photo of her finished tree collage, from the class I gave a few weeks ago at the Ottawa Valley Quilters Guild. I love the way she has taken her leaves off the edge.

Helen recently finished a piece she started last year in my Dye Happy class. The flower centre below was painted with thickened dyes. Helen has a strong stitch and embroidery background so she has heavily hand-stitched the centre with french knots and bullion knots in various shades of white, then added beads. The green and gold section is heavily hand-stitched with fly stitches, while the red petals are heavily machine stitched. The piece is then mounted on stretcher bars and placed in a float frame. The texture is so rich it absolutely begs to me touched!
Albertina sent me the photo below of "46 Fabrics", a quilt she made using a gift of a wide variety of fabrics from her daughter in law. She used my "Reflections" method (Albertina took the class a few years ago) to pull together all the varying fabrics, placing the cool colours in the middle and the warm colours around the outside. I think it has a very modern and abstract feel! By the way, this method involves cutting your curved blocks free-hand.

That's all for now! I'll be teaching my "Reflections" class again this Saturday for the Ottawa Valley Quilters Guild. Then its prepping and packing for two weeks in the Toronto area. I will probably blog throughout the trip as I have gaps between lecturing and teaching days.