This was our trusty "house truck" that carried us tens of thousands of kilometres throughout North America.
Our Slumber Queen house truck at 9666 feet in Wyoming
In 2004 we sold the RV and bought ourselves a 15' travel trailer which we pulled with a Chevy Astro van. Then, summer of 2006, we watched the Al Gore movie: "An Inconvenient Truth", and decided to buy a VW Jetta diesel station wagon. We immediately went from about 18 miles per gallon to 50!!! We don't have quite as much room, and can't cook for ourselves on the road anymore, but we are being much kinder to the environment. We feel that is more important in these days of global warming.
This section details stories and travelogues from the tours, and follows up on some tales that may be of interest. Any comments on this are appreciated.
We have started a blog which will detail all our future travels and all kinds of other stuff too. Check it out at http://singingquilter.wordpress.com
You can join Cathy's Facebook fan page here: http://bit.ly/bXLxkl
Here's what's still on this site:
2008 3 WEEKS SPRING TOUR TO SCOTLAND
2007 5 MONTH SPRING TOUR OF UNITED STATES AND CANADA
2006 QUILTING CRUISE TO MEXICAN RIVIERA
2006 FALL TOUR (AUSTRALIA)
2005 FALL TOUR (EUROPE) PART II
2005 FALL TOUR (EUROPE)
2005 SPRING TOUR (NORTH AMERICA)
2004 WEST COAST (NORTH AMERICA) TOUR
2004 AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND TOUR
2003 SPRING TOUR
Canadian Quiltswappers and Maple Leaf Quilt Guild Western Retreat
Australia Tour 2001
Jinny Beyer Seminar, February 2001
The Rajah Quilt
Imagine 58 women from all over (Williams Lake BC, Oyen AB, Plympton MA, Mesa AZ, even Bordertown South Australia!) gathering together for a weekend of quilting. Not an unusual event, but nonetheless fantastic for everyone involved. As always, when I perform for groups, I ask people for stories that might make good songs, and this audience seemed to have more than its share of great stories. As of June 2001 I am in the midst of writing songs for the next quilting CD, and my ears are open to any ideas. So the stories came at a good time. In brief, here are three of them:
a woman sends a note to her on-line quilting group saying "I am so mad!!" Her husband of 3 months (she thought he was a prize before this incident) that morning said "either you get rid of all that fabric before I get home from work this evening, or I'll get rid of it for you". She and his 16-year old son took the mattress off their bed and laid out the fabric in her stash flat, replacing the mattress before he got home. He asked if she had gotten rid of the fabric, and she opened her cupboard to reveal the empty shelves. "Good! Now isn't that better?" But that night, unknown to him, he spent the entire night sleeping ON HER STASH!! Three months later, the marriage was over.
a woman who attended the retreat told me that, in preparation, she made herself a quilters carryall for her equipment. It was made out of old denim jeans. She had some at the cottage and some at home that she used. In looking for her stash of denim, she found a pair of jeans on top of the dryer. She had the waistband and one leg off it before she realized the jeans looked - well - new. It turns out her son had dropped off his laundry, including a brand new pair of jeans! He didn't know about it before she left for the Retreat, but when he asks where his jeans are, she'll just point to her carryall and say: "there's your waistband, there's the left leg". I asked her to send me a description of the look on his face when he finds out!
Another woman told me they used to make quilt battings out of donated John Deere and International Harvester touques (a truly Canadian batting!) - they cut off the pom-poms and opened them out to lie flat, then whip-stitched them all together. They were inside charity quilts they were making.
It only made sense
to plan an extended "CD launch" tour to Australia.
After all, I wrote many of the songs from the quilting CD while
John and I were living in Darwin, and I had help from many
quilters there in my research.
We left Canada on February 20th, arriving in Sydney on the 22nd (thank you, International Date Line!). We immediately picked up a hired campervan and "headed for the hills" - the Blue Mountains, where we loaded ourselves up with large numbers of boxes full of CDs and recovered from our jet lag by attending the Blue Mountains folk festival in Katoomba. Then, we hit the road for 9 weeks of the most wonderful tour!
We spent most of the trip either performing for quilting guilds and shops or visiting quilting shops around the country. We did 33 shows and put 20,000 km on the van before we turned it in on May 1st.
Singing "Time Flies" at the Quilt Study Group in Canberra, as part of the introduction to Sheila Bruhn's talk about her experiences in Changi Prison during WWII. I read her book "Diary of a Girl in Changi" as part of my research for writing the song. It was wonderful to meet her. After she spoke, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Doing a quilting radio show with Deb Layt in Melbourne one morning - she's a wonderful host, very capable, and somehow she can explain things in a way that you think you're seeing it.
Being invited to come along to a "Quilt In" (which was supposed to be a "Quilt Out", but it rained...) in Glenlyon, VIC - to find over 100 wonderful women, doing the most interesting mythology challenge (lots of small quilts with dragons, etc.)
Seeing a Dear Jane quilt finished - made by Irene Carrig of the South Australia guild. It was so big, and beautifully done!
Seeing the Dry Centre of Australia green, with many wildflowers everywhere. We just missed the flooding by a week, happily. Even Darwin was dry when we were there, although I understand it started raining again after we left.
Seeing Queensland for the first time. We had a day off in Townsville and took a day tour out to the Great Barrier Reef. After we recovered from a bit of queasiness (they said it was the calmest day all week!), we snorkelled amid the most amazing fish and coral. Saw lots of giant clams and all manner of shapes of coral. I had been working on broderie perse applique on a queen sized quilt during the trip - over 150 fish around the border - and all of a sudden, it made sense: tropical fish really DO look quite cartoonish! And such a range of colours!
Staying on a sugar cane property in Mossman, north Queensland. It had been a location for the filming of "The Thin Red Line", which we've since seen. Our friends warned us about snakes in the toilet, and always there are spiders. But we didn't have close encounters with either. Thankfully!
Singing at this year's SCQuilters Retreat. Southern Cross Quilters are the on-line Australia/New Zealand quilting group who have been wonderful in providing inspiration for my work. I sang for them last year in Hobart, Tasmania (the back cover shot on the CD is from there), and it was great to see everyone again, and sing the rest of the songs for them.
And, finally, finishing the quilt top I was hand-appliqueeing for my step-daughter and her husband.
It was, all in all, a most wonderful tour. I'm looking forward to finishing my next CD and getting back to Australia and do it all again! Thanks to everyone - new friends and old - for the incredible hospitality you have shown us in our travels.
February 3rd is
my birthday, and in 2001 I got the most marvellous birthday
present! John and I flew down to Hilton Head, South Carolina to
spend a couple of days of indulgence at the Hilton Resort, right
on the beach. We were there to sing at the final banquet at Jinny
Beyer's annual Quilting Seminar.
What can I say? Those of you who know of Jinny's reputation as one of the world's most exciting and well known quilters will understand my excitement at being able to meet her, see her quilts, meet her friends and staff, and be a part of the seminar. This was the 21st year she has held this seminar, and people come from everywhere - all across the US and Canada, even a number of quilters from Holland this year! Such a well organized conference, seamlessly run, great food, and lots of classes led by terrific teachers. Jinny herself is one of the most personable, down-to-earth and generous people I've met. She was a joy to meet.
I took to the stage on Saturday night after a sumptuous banquet (my tablemates guarded my dessert as I sang - I never did get to eat it!). There were approximately 300 people in the room, and it was electric. The energy created from the deep recognition of the song topics and stories was profound. My only regret was in not remembering my song "Jingo, the Punk Flamingo" for my encore (Jinny has a running joke about flamingoes from previous years of the seminar). I sang it the next day for her.
I am so grateful to Jinny and to Barbara Tricarico, who found my Website on the Internet, for my introduction to so many wonderful American quilters.
Jinny told me a couple of marvellous stories that I intend to write up for the next quilting CD. One about the Lovely Lane quilt made by Elizabeth Coggswell, possibly the oldest quilt in the Americas, and one about Charm quilts. If you have any other stories you think I'd be interested in, please drop me a line.
On the "One Stitch at a Time" CD launch tour (fall 2000), we sang about the Rajah Quilt, the only surviving Australian convict ship quilt known to be in existence, now resident at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, ACT. The quilt was made by female prisoners aboard ship on their way to Van Diemens Land, and given to Lady Franklin when they arrived. Later, it was sent back to England as a thank you to Elizabeth Fry, an early prison reformer and Quaker, who worked with upwards of 12,000 women while they were in Newgate Prison. She and her committee provided each woman with a bible and a bundle of sewing supplies to encourage them to have faith and to keep their hands busy in their new country. She taught them how to quilt and encouraged them to make quilts aboard ship. It was found in 1988 in an attic in Scotland, and purchased at auction by the National Gallery of Australia. The label on the quilt is done in fine cross-stitch and reads:
To the Ladies of the Convict Ship Committee: this quilt worked by the Convicts of the ship Rajah during their voyage to Van Diemens Land is presented as a testimony of the gratitude with which they remember their exertions for their welfare while in England and during their passage and also as a proof that they have not neglected the Ladies kind admonitions of being industrious. June 1841.
Elizabeth Fry gained great prominence from her work with the convicts, and today her picture can be found on the British five pound note. She is also featured on two panels of the Quaker tapestry in England.
When we were in Ottawa, Canada, singing for the Maple Tree Quilts store's annual retreat in 2000, we met women who had participated in creating a copy of the quilt in honour of the Elizabeth Fry Society's 45th anniversary, in 1996. We went the next morning to visit the Elizabeth Fry Society's offices, and were able to see the quilt. It is lovely, and was to be a centrepiece of their celebrations in 2001 for their 50th anniversary. We have also met a descendant of Mrs. Fry, her great-granddaughter, Donna Healey, from Eston, Saskatchewan! We have put Donna in touch with Peter and Jenny Fry in Western Australia, also a descendent of Elizabeth.
Quilt historians in Australia believe that the fine needlework on the Rajah quilt was done by Miss Kezia Hayter, a freewoman on board that voyage of the Rajah. She presumably did the broderie perse in the centre, and the fine cross-stitched inscription on the bottom. At the end of the voyage, she married the captain of the ship!!!
In December 2001 I received an email from a descendent of one of the prisoners on the Rajah on that voyage, another Kezia, who was a bonnet maker by trade, and almost certainly helped to sew the quilt. He is searching his family roots, and if he finds out anything about the quilt, will keep me informed.
The National Gallery has recently decided that the quilt is in extremely fragile condition and will only have it on display for one week per year, one hour per day. It is a national treasure, and is being treated with the great respect it deserves.
The story of the Rajah quilt continues!