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

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Canadian Quiltswappers and Maple Leaf Quilt Guild Western Retreat

Australia Tour 2001

Jinny Beyer Seminar, February 2001

The Rajah Quilt

Canadian Quiltswappers and Maple Leaf Quilt Guild Western Retreat - June 2001

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:

Australia Tour 2001

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.
The highlights?

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.

Jinny Beyer Seminar, Hilton Head, SC (February 2001)

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.


The Rajah Quilt

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!