I was armed. Coffee, cookies and the Country Register by my side. 800 kilometers of Highway 16 ahead of me. It was tempting to go via Moose Jaw just to visit two of my favorite quilt stores, but I couldn’t comprehend driving the extra 2 hours it would add to the trip.
I have seen the Saskatchewan Stitching Conference advertised in the Country Register for many years and have always wanted to go, but it took the gentle nudge of a friend to get me to sign up for a class I really wanted to take.
The Country Register also has a very handy map which pinpoints all the specialty shops in Manitoba & Saskatchewan. So I knew that my 8 hours in the car could be broken up with stops in Yorkton and Foam Lake. It was something to look forward to.
If you live on the prairies, you will know that when it comes to driving we really only have two seasons – winter and construction. Highway 16 was relatively free of construction, but construction (and rain) prevented my stop in Yorkton. I have been told it is worth the stop. There are two things I never forget. Where to buy good soft ice cream and where to buy fabric. Next time.
Main Street, small town Saskatchewan is never hard to find, and Foam Lake was no exception. I had a lovely visit at Quiltworks Studio, and walked away with some treasures – A Laurel Burch Christmas book and fabric.
Humboldt was my destination. Before closing time. Another Main Street; another quilt shop. I made a quick stop at the Haus of Stitches for directions to the conference, and to have a look around. The offer to “start a tab” made walking out with a purchase almost too easy. Obviously they knew I would be further tempted with the supplies that were for sale at the conference.
Several kilometers and several right turns later I was at St. Peter’s College.
I was there for a class called Rulers 201 by Liz Thompson. It is my humble opinion that rulers will make the biggest change in domestic machine quilting in the next few years and I will talk more about rulers in the weeks to come. For today, I want to focus on the rest of the conference.
Let’s start with knitting. I gave up knitting 30 years ago, but would almost consider taking it up again. This diverse class included the youngest student (a girl in Grade 7 who took a week off school in order to attend the conference), and a young university student who had been taught to knit by his girlfriend’s grandmother. The class was taught by Lucy Neatby. Here are pictures of a few of her samples, but I would encourage you to visit her website for more.
The spinning class was taught by Glenda Hudson, of The Wool Emporium. This class interested me because some day I will have a spinning wheel that has sat as a living room ornament for 50 years.
The bra making class with Beverly Johnson was very popular. We were told that as soon as you finish your first one, you want to lift up your shirt to show everyone. I do not have pictures to share.
Jan Bones took me back to my Clothing and Textile days at the University of Manitoba, where she taught when I was a student. I loved those classes! She now has her own line of lingerie patterns. My challenge to her, to you, or anyone else listening is to make flannel sleepwear that does not look childish or old ladyish. Maybe even a little sexy. Flannel is the most comfortable fabric ever. Why does it always have to be so ugly?!?! BTW, I bought one of her patterns, some flannel, and some lace. I will include myself in the challenge.
Jackie Van Fossen taught screen printing. She is a fibre artist who dabbles in many of the things that interest me – weaving, felting and botanical dying. We were encouraged to visit other classes but in this case, I was actually escorted to the class. The students shared their work and the process. Speaking of felt, another treasured purchase was this Alpaca yarn, which I want to felt and work into my landscape quilt (if I don’t knit it first). The Alpaca are farmed in Saskatchewan and I had a chance to talk with her. That’s one of the things I love about Saskatchewan. It is big enough to be diverse, but small enough to be personal.
There seems to be significant interest in botanical dying. Comparing notes over the dinner table with Jackie and others has me excited about new possibilities! You may remember my Mad Scientist experiments from last summer (#1 – Food, Flowers and Fabric, #2 – Slow Textiles, #3 – Pincherries and Juniper and #4 – Going for Green). It will soon be time to start some new experiments.
So far I haven’t mentioned the quilting classes, but I saw some wonderful works-in-progress. Dianne Jansson taught Gypsy Wife. Here is the sample that was hanging on the wall.
I instantly felt connected to Dianne because she designed the hardest block (by far) for the Northcott Block Party. It was the Star of Hope from DiVersity Quilting in Pritchard BC. I think I could learn a lot from Dianne, and would seriously consider taking any class she offers next year.
This short story would not be complete without mention of the newest celebrity in the garment world – Saskatchewan’s own Ron Collins, the first Canadian male to have patterns published by Vogue. He taught classes in fitting, and provided many of the samples for Saturday’s night fashion show.
My 2 days were packed – classes, meals, tours, fashion show, shopping, meet the teacher events, voting on their 15th anniversary challenge and even a stitching circle late in the evening. I don’t know how Wendy, her staff and maybe even more than a few of her friends keep it going for 10 days! They did a superb job as hosts of the Saskatchewan Stitching Conference. A personal thanks to Wendy who just magically appeared whenever I got lost, when I got locked out of my room, and when we needed supplies (i.e. toilet paper!). Until next year…