ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Monday, December 18, 2017

A Review of Inspiration Kantha

As promised, I am dropping by today with a review of "Inspiration Kantha" (Schiffer Publishing, 2017). Full disclosure here: I personally know author Anna Hergert from the Canadian teaching circuit. We have met numerous times at various teaching venues over the years. Sometimes we were both teaching there and sometimes she was judging and I was teaching. So when I opened this book and started reading, my first impression was that Anna was sitting right here beside me chatting with me. I especially feel this way in the section where she talks about personal exploration, something she is passionate about.

I knew little about Kantha before I opened this book. The concise history Anna provides, gave me a better understanding of this ancient needle art. Historically, traditional Kantha provided women from the Indian subcontinent with a thrifty method of binding together worn saris and giving them a new look as blankets and throws, etc.

The book provides an overview of traditional Kantha stitches and motifs, with clear instructions on how to achieve them. It also includes instructions for using them in several projects. Anna also provides ample encouragement to those who want to take Kantha beyond traditional interpretations, and shares an inspiring gallery of photographs showcasing her work and that of her students.

This book will appeal to those quilters and stitchers who want to broaden their stitching options, but especially those who have embraced the modern trend toward repurposing and upcycling. There is no doubt that hand-stitching is therapeutic to those who practice it, and this book will also appeal to those who have embraced the slow stitching movement.

I was feeling inspired to use some of my hand-dyed perle cottons while reading the book, but then I opened the page where Anna shows her white on white prairie landscapes, titled “Absence of Color”. How refreshing white can be! The texture is stunning.

With Anna's permission I am posting photos here of the Absence of Color series.They remind me so much of a day in the sand dunes at Death Valley Park, California. They also remind me of today's wintry weather. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Last Workshop of 2017, Back to the Studio

It's that time of year when I'm back in the studio again. My teaching for 2017 ended last Sunday (more on that in a minute), so I've been busy in the studio this past week. I finally finished quilting the Smokebush piece I began last year. 

Aside from a busy schedule, I did procrastinate on finishing this piece because I was very unsure about how to quilt the background. The answer did eventually come when I focused!

This piece is the first in a series I am planning on Smokebush, and the name is "Smoke and Mirrors 1". Why? Because the day I first caught sight of Smokebush, I felt like the plant was playing magical tricks on me. One moment it was eggplant in colour and the next it was orange. It shimmered back and forth in the wind. 

Up until the beginning of March, I'll be in full studio mode finishing and creating new pieces for my exhibition in Sitges, Spain and for a group show with my Crossing Oceans international group. I will have to decide which pieces will go where.

Last weekend I had a lovely time teaching "In Full Bloom" in a 3-day retreat setting at Inspired Getaways, a quilting and crafting retreat centre near Arnprior, Ontario, owned and run by Ottawa quilter Karine Chapleau (who is also a long arm quilter). This is what our work room looked like.

This was the view from our work room. It is a very peaceful setting.

I can't say enough good things about the weekend. It was such a pleasure to work closely with students for three days, watching them actually finish their pieces. If you've taken my In Full Bloom class at some point, you know that the usual one day class is not enough time to finish the flower. Three days seemed about right. Everyone went home with a finished flower.

The retreat centre itself is amazing. It's a sprawling home with several bedrooms that has been turned into a retreat centre. You can either rent the place to hold a quilting retreat with your group, or you can attend any of the full-service retreats that the owner has booked teachers for. The full-service retreats include all your meals too. We certainly ate well! Karine was a fantastic hostess, and has thought of absolutely every detail to make the centre as comfortable and convenient as possible. I'll be teaching there again in May 2018. This time students will have the chance to design their own nature quilt. I can't wait to see what they come up with. 

I should also mention that if you decide to fly in for the retreat, Karine runs an airport pick-up service, providing transportation to the retreat. For my American readers, this is a great opportunity to take a class with me, and you are guaranteed a fantastic deal given how low our Canadian dollar is at the moment. Once again, the website is here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Teaching Trip & What's New?

I would have to say that winter is upon us! It's a great time for getting in the studio and getting things done.

Look at what arrived in the mail last week! A copy of my friend Anna Hergert's new Inspiration Kantha book. I will be delving into the book in more detail shortly and will be posting a review of it. I must say that I love the look of Kantha stitches, and think they would be a fantastic way to use my embroidery-weight hand-dyed threads!!

Just returning from a teaching trip (more on that in a minute), and recovering from a cold I caught while on said teaching trip, I've been working on finally getting my peony quilt quilted. I am teaching how to make this quilt (the other choice is Sunkissed Poppy) at a three-day retreat at Inspired Getaways December 1-3. I think there are  a couple of spaces available, so should you be interested, do check the website at http://inspiredgetaways.ca/. I even have hand-dyed kits available for you. All you need is a few supplies, like fusible web. You stay there for the three days, with all meals provided so you can focus on completing the quilt. I'll be doing a follow-up retreat in May 2018 where students get to design their own nature quilt.

So I had a lovely little trip to New York State and a visit with the Champlain Valley Quilters Guild of New York. Such a warm and welcoming group. I delivered a talk to them on the Wednesday night, and then on Thursday we worked with Tsukineko Inks and Inktense Pencils.

This group was really focused and wanted to experiment too, so I learned a lot from them.

It was really fun and interesting to have this mother-son team in the class. Kevin has an art background and is interested in taking his art to fabric.

After my time with the guild, I headed south to Poughkeepsie to visit a friend. She was sick with a cold when I arrived, and I had just started with mine. On my first day I took a drive around town, and did a bit of shopping. Poughkeepsie has many lovely old residences and buildings, and is situated in the beautiful Hudson River Valley. This tree stopped me in my tracks, and I had to turn my car around to get a photo. Isn't it stunning?


Since my friend and I were both ill, I decided to head home a bit early. Good thing because my cold really hit the next day. Peekaboo was waiting for me, and was on my lap within moments of being home. She spent a lot of time there while I got better.

When I finish stitching the peony quilt, I'll be starting in on some new designs. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Two Visits to Newmarket, Ontario

On Thursday night I returned from a week-long teaching trip that saw me visit Newmarket, Ontario twice, with a weekend off in between two separate bookings. I decided to head to Newmarket a day ahead of my booking, and had a chance to enjoy a walk around Fairy Lake Conservation Area on a beautiful fall day.

I also had an opportunity to explore the historic main street lined with charming shops and restaurants.

I stopped for coffee at this funky little coffee shop called Covernotes.

That night I gave a lecture/trunk show to the Region of York Quilters' Guild. Patti Carey (of Northcott Fabrics fame) was in the audience and kindly brought this quilt she designed with my first line of Northcott fabric, "Falling Leaves". 

The following day I gave a Hosta Leaves workshop to a group of quilters who seemed also to be gardeners and hosta lovers.

Evelyn was the first one finished.

After my workshop I headed to Waterloo, where I visited my sister, and had a chance to check up on my 93 year old father who has been living in long-term care for the last year and a half. Yes, I know I look so much like him! But I also look like my maternal grandmother too.

This is "Foxy", the cat that lives at his residence.

I spent the weekend in Waterloo, and then headed back to Newmarket on Monday, where I taught two workshops for The Quilt Store. This is Denise and I getting masked up before mixing our dyes on Day 1. It also happened to be Halloween, so we thought these masks would make a great Facebook post.

On Wednesday I taught my Liberated Radial Piecing workshop.

We had the pleasure of having Amy, a rescue German Shepherd in our class. Amy has a bit of a foot injury, so Heather thought bringing her to class might help with her depression. Sue, on the right was the only person who came to all three of my classes (at the guild as well as the store). She is also a member of the very organized and welcoming team that brought me to The Region of York Quilters' Guild.

Janet's piece.

Within minutes of arriving home on Thursday night Peekaboo was on my lap, and she has been there every opportunity she could find for the past few days.

Thank you Newmarket, both the Quilters' Guild and The Quilt Store, for your warm hospitality.