Gail Garber Designs
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Friends and Family

A Visit to eQuilter

How time flies when you are having fun!  Just last month, I enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of Maine Quilters, while August was much about family and friends in Colorado, our neighbor to the north.  My sis, Ann Rhodes, has lived in Boulder for many years.

The Flatirons west of Boulder, CO

The Flatirons west of Boulder, CO

Typical of other visits to Boulder, our days began with hikes in the open space west of the city, marveling at the majesty of the jagged peaks.  One morning, I set off alone, aiming to climb to the top of the NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) hill.  Huffing and puffing, I made it to the top only to find a lone

Deer

Deer

deer.  Since no hunting is allowed in the city of Boulder, open space included, the deer are remarkably unconcerned about the presence of people, so this one just gave me a quick look and resumed nibbling on the tender shoots.  There is much to do in Boulder besides hiking!  It also is home to eQuilter founded and owned by Luana and Paul Rubin.

Luana Rubin at her desk

Luana Rubin at her desk

Luana’s background was in fashion design with a specialty in imports, working in New York City and traveling the world.  She loved New York and the fashion industry.  After she met and married Paul, they moved to Colorado to he make their home.  Luana signed up for a Log Cabin quilting class and fell in love!  From then on, there was no looking back and she took as many classes as possible with just one problem — she couldn’t find all of the fabrics she wanted for her quilts.

So, Luana and Paul started eQuilter in the basement of their home in March of 1999, 15 years ago.  Paul was a web designer, who had the expertise to create their website.  Initially, they specialized in Asian fabrics and a three year business plan.  They exceeded that plan in only 60 days!

eQuilter Warehouse

eQuilter Warehouse

Today, their expansive warehouse holds 18,000 – 20,000 items at any given time with over 1,000 new products every month.

Designed by Stephanie Brandenburg for Frond Fabrics

Designed by Stephanie Brandenburg for Fernhill Fabrics

This includes an amazing array of fabrics, including this new line  by Stephanie Brandenburg,

Every solid color in the world

Every solid color in the world

and just about every imaginable solid color in the world.

Orange Fat Quarter Packs

Orange Fat Quarter Packs

Lime Fat Quarter Packs

Lime Fat Quarter Packs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I loved all the bright fat quarter packs in lime, orange, yellows and more!

Luana and Yours Truly with a terrific bolt of fabric!

Luana and Yours Truly with a terrific bolt of fabric!

After our tour, Luana and I had fun at the cutting counters, before we headed off to lunch and I learned more about this remarkable woman and the charity work of eQuilter.  Stay tuned . . .

 

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Remembering Michele Hymel

I’ve been negligent about posting this past month.  It’s been a challenging 30 days. 

Today was the memorial service for my long-time friend and invaluable assistant, Michele Hymel.  The celebration of her life took place outdoors in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, as she would have wished.  Michele Can Do AttitudeSome of my best friends in the whole world are the ones that I met in quilting classes.  Such was the case with Michele, who I met back in the late 1990s when she took my design class at Bernina Sewing Center in Albuquerque, NM.  I liked her immediately and marveled at her ‘can do’ attitude.  She embraced life and exuded positivity.

Goose is Loose Quilt by Michele

Goose is Loose Quilt by Michele

In fact, it wasn’t long after that class that she finished her first original design.  We soon became fast friends and she joined my small group, Designing Women.  Little did we know how close our friendship would become.

On Golden Pond by Michele Hymen

On Golden Pond by Michele Hymel

Michele designed this whimsical piece for my book, Flying Colors, published in 2010.  Overall, she was one of the most productive and creative members of our group, one who could always be counted on when something needed doing.

Spiral Galaxy by Michele Hymel

Spiral Galaxy by Michele Hymel

Sometimes she surprised us by bringing a completed quilt for show and tell, one that none of us had ever heard about before.

Working with me at Gail Garber Designs

Working with me at Gail Garber Designs

Several years ago she joined Donna Barnitz and me at my home based Gail Garber Designs.  Michele was a wiz at everything, especially all-things-computer, an area where Donna and I were less than stellar.

Quilting at the Cabin - Hawks Aloft style

Quilting at the Cabin – Hawks Aloft style

Michele also jumped into Hawks Aloft, the conservation organization that is so close to my heart, with enthusiasm, becoming a regular at the annual Hawks Aloft quilt retreats, where we stitch a quilt top in one day!!  We could always count on Michele to finish those final seams.

Michele Finishes the Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt

Michele Finishes the Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt

Not long after Michele began attending the retreat, Mike, her hubby, joined our team.  It was then, and remains his job now to accurately cut the fabrics, trim the blocks and help in the organizational process.

Michele and Mike Hymel, married 40 years.

Michele and Mike Hymel

Michele loved to hike and be outdoors as much as possible.  Above she is with her husband of 40 years, Mike, as we hiked in the Jemez Mountains.  Her other passion was scuba, which she learned so that she could partake of that sport when she visited her son, Kent, who was working in Australia.  Scuba was Michele’s solo sport, one that none of her quilting friends or Mike practiced.  So it was that in spring of 2012, Michele went with some of her Texas friends to Roatan, off the coast of Venezuela, for a scuba trip.  While there, she had a nagging pain in her back beneath her shoulder blades.  Upon her return, several doctor’s visits revealed the worst, stage 4 lung cancer!  She immediately embarked on a regime of radiation and chemo.  The rest of us set about doing what quilters do for each other – making a friendship quilt.

Giving Michele the Quilt

Giving Michele the Quilt

We  hurried as fast as possible and were able to surprise Michele with this friendship quilt just before her second chemo treatment.

Chocolate - Michele's favorite!

Chocolate – Michele’s favorite!

We even made a little party of the evening, presenting her with her favorite dessert, chocolate and more chocolate.  As the chemo progressed, Michele was very ill and so nauseated that there was little she could eat.  As she lost weight, we all worried about the prognosis.  Eventually, this particular cocktail of drugs ceased to halt the spread of the cancer.  A new treatment, one with far fewer side effects, ensued.

Michele, Me, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, and Mary Chappelle

Michele, Me, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, and Mary Chappelle

She had some bad days, but far more good days, and they were predictable.  So, we traveled to some of the places she wanted to see.  It was in the spring of 2013 that two of my quilts were accepted into the National Quilt Museum.  Michele said, “I’ve never been to Paducah!”.  So four of us set off on a long April weekend to visit the museum.  Here we are dining at Flamingo Row, one of the best Paducah restaurants!

At the National Quilt Museum

At the National Quilt Museum

The museum is, of course, an amazing experience!  Seeing my quilts hanging on the walls was thrilling for all of us, but perhaps most of all for Michele.  We adjourned to Hancock Fabrics, a.k.a. Mecca to quilters and it was then that I noticed that, while the rest of us were merrily shopping away, Michele didn’t take home anything.

Michele Birds Alaska

Michele Birds Alaska

In June, Michele traveled with me to Alaska, where Maret Anderson, owner of Seams Like Home Quilting in Anchorage, had hired me to teach at her annual retreat at Halibut Cove, Alaska, across Katchemak Bay from Homer.  We birded along the way, stopping first at the famed Potter’s Marsh.

Tide pooling

Tide pooling

At the lodge, with the long days of summer, we had ample time to explore our surroundings, doing things like checking on tide pool creatures like this star fish.  Did you know that when you turn them upside down, they immediately begin to right themselves by moving short tentacle-like extensions on their backs in unison/  It feels very weird.

Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking

We went sea kayaking too, another first for Michele!

Michele appliques

Michele appliques

And, while I taught class, Michele hand appliqued a quilt for her grandson, Henry, who was two years old at that time.

Michele had one more grand adventure in July 2013 when she traveled with all of her family to Hawaii.  She was still working for me at the time, but I could tell that she was often in pain, although she never once complained and definitely did not whine!  She confided that she was afraid the drugs were no longer working.  Her fears became reality during the next round of scans that showed the cancer had spread.  She entered hospice care in October last fall, and was able to remain at home throughout, thanks to the devoted nursing of her husband and life companion, Mike. She said good-bye to this life on April 8, 2014, while I was away teaching in New Bern, NC.  I had known the end was near, but didn’t know exactly when the time would come.

Michele enriched my life so greatly and I cherish the memories that I will always have of her.  Those who counted her as a friend are amazingly lucky to have known this incredible woman.

If You Want to Make a Pie

If You Want to Make a Pie

A while back, before the dreadful diagnosis, Michele made this little quilt for me.  It epitomizes her intelligence, someone who always thought outside the box.  I miss her terribly.

I know this is a long post, but a necessary one for me.  Michele had never smoked.  Another friend of mine was diagnosed with the same exact cancer, one year later.  Now, she remains on chemo, her outcome as yet undetermined.  She also did not smoke.  Lung cancer remains the number one killer of women, and non-smokers lung cancer is rarely diagnosed until the latest stages.  It seems so unfair that this disease remains one for which there is no routine screening.   Please!  Next time you go for an annual checkup, ask your physician for a chest x-ray.  It might save your life.

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Quilting in the Desert – After Hours

A lot of what happens at a quilt event like Quilting in the Desert, happens after class has ended.  At this event, it began to get exciting before I even arrived. I had been following the exploits of former student, Gale Wrigley as she drove west, leaving her home in Florida for four months of travel.  She ran into road blocks in Texas that slooooowed her down, and for a while she worried that she might not ever move beyond those  expansive borders.  So, I commented a time or two and we began a friendly repartee about her travels.  However, not for a minute did it occur to me that Gale was en route to Scottsdale to take my class!  What a treat!

The Two Gails - Gale Wrigley and Gail Garber

The Two Gals – Gale Wrigley and Gail Garber

It was just like the reunion of two longtime friends, a natural and comfortable fit!  So, we hung out together, walking across the street for lunch with her friend, Dolores Roseveare.  They had reserved a suite with a full kitchen.  And, they invited me to dinner along with fellow teacher, Louise Smith.

Cooking in the Kitchen

Cooking in the Kitchen

I showed up at the appointed time to find Dolores and Gale in the midst of dinner preparations, with wine already set out – both red and white, which we drank in plastic hotel room cups.

Dining a la Wrigley

Dining a la Wrigley

A lovely Greek feast with couscous, feta, olives and veggies, along with a tasty salad of beets and greens hit the spot.  But the best part was the companionship as we lounged on their tiny patio renewing our friendship and getting to know Dolores and Louisa.   The next afternoon we headed off to the Desert Botanical Garden to view the Chihuly exhibit, but there was much to see at the gardens in addition to the glass exhibit.

Perfect Saguaro

Perfect Saguaro

I’ve always been intrigued by the massive saguaro cacti which grow only in the Sonoran desert.  They grow slowly and must reach ~50 years of age before they even begin to sprout arm buds.  A saturated saguaro can hold up to 200 gallons of water!  But, what I didn’t know was that

Saguaro Skeleton

Saguaro Skeleton

when the cactus dies, it leaves behind a sturdy wooden skeleton, much like the trunk of a tree.  My first exposure to this aspect happened when I checking in at the Cottonwoods Resort . . .

Saguaro Art

Saguaro Art

where a fully varnished saguaro skeleton graced the lobby of the hotel. It was for sale too, for ~$4500.  However, as much fun as it was to see this masterpiece, I was not even tempted — it was taller than the ceilings in my modest home.

I hope to be able to return to Phoenix sometime soon so I can take my time and take in the full majesty of the Desert Botanical Gardens a celebration of all things Sonoran, including

Spiral Cactus

Spiral Cactus

and

Round Button Cactus

Round Button Cactus

In fact, I’ve never seen such an amazing display of the various cacti!  But my favorite remains, the giant saguaro.

Saguaro in Desert Garden

Saguaro in Desert Garden

Bye Phoenix.  Bye Gale.  ‘Til next time!

 

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Art in Phoenix – Chihuly After Dark

This is the second post about my visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens to view Chihuly in the Garden.  My new friends and I arrived in the late afternoon after we all finished class for the day.  The daylight exhibit was impressive with the glasswork mirroring and complementing the desert vegetation.  But , but once the sun set, it became positively magical.  Below are my favorites from the series of images that I took that night.  I hope you enjoy them.

Chihuly Starburst

Chihuly Starburst

Chihuly Starburst Detail

Chihuly Starburst Detail

Globe Among Spires

Globe Among Spires

Garden Globes

Garden Globes

Hidden Among the Vegetation

Hidden Among the Vegetation

Fireball on the Mountain

Fireball on the Mountain

Fireball Detail

Fireball Detail

Spires Among Cacti

Spires Among Cacti

Spires Among Prickly Pear

Spires Among Prickly Pear

Glass Yuccas at the entrance to the park.

Glass Yuccas at the entrance to the park.

Desert at Dark

Desert at Dark

What a treat it was to see Chihuly in the Garden.  It will remain in Phoenix through May 11.  It’s definitely worth the visit!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quilt In A Day – Hawks Aloft Style – Part 2

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear with no evidence that it should have been wintry.  Our hearty crew was hard at work early on.

Sweatshop 2014

Sweatshop 2014

Stitching, stitching . . .

Steve Elkins uses paper foundation piecing techniques to stitch blocks for the quilt.

Steve Elkins uses paper foundation piecing techniques to stitch blocks for the quilt.

It wasn’t long before the different blocks began to emerge.

Star Block in progress

Star Block in progress

Keep Calm and Carry On was the mantra of the day.  For a while it seemed like the stack of block kits was getting larger, not smaller.

Pat Folsom, the newbie to this year's retreat.

Pat Folsom, the newbie to this year’s retreat.

We were twelve strong, including two newbies, Pat Folsom and Allison Schacht.  Both had such a good time, they have already signed up for 2015.

First Look at the Middle

First Look at the Middle

It wasn’t long before the center star was completed.  Here, Cynthia Figuerora-McInteer shows the results to Steve E. and Laurie Marnell, while my dog, Gabby, looks on.  He’s probably not terribly impressed.  After all, this is his 9th quilt retreat.

The Center is done!

The Center is done!

Shortly thereafter, the inner border of Flying Geese completed the center.  Now, to stitch that to the already existing Flying Hawk circular border.  And so it went, until late afternoon when all the blocks were completed and we began to stitch the final borders.

Sami Sews on the Border

Sami Sews on the Border

We took turns stitching on the final borders, so four sewers each attached one border.  It is a one woman stitching job at this point.

Snoozing

Snoozing

As our excitement mounted, the dogs remained unimpressed.

Mary Chappelle sews on the third border.

Mary Chappelle sews on the third border.

and, finally as the dinner hour neared . . .

Chellye Porter and Laurie Marnell work on the Final Border

Chellye Porter and Laurie Marnell work on the Final Border

by this point, it really helped to have a holder to keep the weight of the quilt top from dragging on the stitcher!  And, Ta-Da!  We finished at 5:59 p.m., one hour earlier than the 2013 quilt.  We celebrated in style that evening and then posed for the final photo the following morning.

The 2014 Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt Top.

The 2014 Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt Top.  Image by Steve Elkins.

From L-R: Pat Folsom, Anita McSorley, Sam Sanborn, Chellye Porter, Miss Elaenia, Gail, Gabby, Barry, Laurie Marnell, Steve Elkins, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, Ed Chappelle, Allison Schacht, Mary Chappelle, and Layla!  A good time was had by all.  Many thanks to all who participated.  The quilt top has now gone off to Lincoln, NE where it will be magically quilted by Kris Vierra!  Look for it to make its debut at the Monte Vista Crane Festival, in Monte Vista, CO in early March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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International Quilt Festival – Old Friends and New

One of the best things about International Quilt Festival is seeing my friends from afar, and meeting new friends. Some of my best friends in the whole world are people I met through quilting – a very special breed!

Diane Anderson, from Auckland, New Zealand, and Yours Truly

Diane Anderson, from Auckland, New Zealand, and Yours Truly

This year, I was thrilled to be able to spend time with Diane Anderson, and her husband Terry!  The first night of the big show, (and the night that I forgot to make a reservation at the Hilton, we all crowded into Janice Schindeler and Harry Crofton‘s lovely home in medical center area, where we all enjoyed a light repast and some bubbly!

Anna Sexton and her Little House of Geese, from class.

Anna Sexton and her Little House of Geese, from class.

Monday morning it was off to class, where I taught Little House of Geese, one of my favorite classes, and one in which students are very successful.  However, no one every finished the project in the six hour class.  But, the next day, Anna Sexton walked into my next class to show off her completed quilt top!  Beautiful, Anna!

Later in the week, I taught a design class in which students work through a series of exercises and then move on to their own designs.  I was surprised and delighted when

Kathleen Johnson's design, Alexander, ND

High Gear by Kathleen Johnson, Alexander, ND

Kathleen Johnson, of Alexander, ND brought this terrific quilt into class.  Kathleen had taken my class several years ago when I taught at the North Dakota Quilting Retreat.  She not only completed the quilt, but added many nice touches and lovely machine quilting!

Detail of Kathleen Johnson Quilt

Detail of Kathleen Johnson Quilt

I just love how she used asymmetry to create motion in the circular stars.

Oasis on the Green

Oasis on the Green

Where once a parking lot stood, the City of Houston has created an oasis of green across the street from the George Brown Convention Center.  The gardens were in full regalia during this year’s show and it was a peaceful respite from the goings on inside the center.  What could be more beautiful than

Bird of Paradise Flowers

Bird of Paradise Flowers

a whole bank of bird of paradise flowers!  I hope that I will see some of you there in 2014, the 40th anniversary of International Quilt Festival.

 

 

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Home Sweet Home at Thimbleweeds

There’s No Place Like Home!  My favorite things include the wonderful quilters that make up the Thimbleweeds group.   A while back, I was thinning out the old patterns that I had stored in the garage for the past 20 or so years.  It had become obvious that they just weren’t going to sell.  Plus I needed the space.

Homecoming (c) 199

Homecoming (c) 1990

So, I donated all the parts to my Homecoming pattern, written in 1990, sans directions, no bags, not assembled into any sort of order and bundled them all off in Donna’s minivan.

Thimbleweeds Homecoming Devotees

Thimbleweeds Homecoming Devotees from l-r:  Colleen Konetzni, Marlene Walker, Holly Plugge, Mary Moya, Judy Aronow, Ann Driscoll and Anne Townsend.

Imagine my surprise when I showed up at Thimbleweeds and there, along one wall of their meeting room, hung row upon row of Homecoming Quilts in Progress.

Who am I #4

Holly Plugge

Each quilter had made the blocks uniquely her own.

Who am I #2

Marlene Walker

It was great to get to see all of the variations they had created from the base pattern.

Who am I #1

Mary Moya

Each reflected the personality of its maker, like this version in bright colors.

Who am I #3

Judy Aronow

But this version by Anne Townsend gets the prize for the most embellishment.  It is simply enchanting.

Little House with Little Owl

Little House with Little Owl

This little house was so altered from my original design, that all I recognized was the walk.  Check out the owl house!

Little Owl

Little Owl

Complete with a cozy nest hole for the neighborhood owl.

Anne Townsend's Quilts Yes there is more than one!

Anne  Driscoll’s Quilts. Yes there is more than one!

But the prize surely goes to Anne Townsend, who made not one, but displayed two.  This threadwork version is still in progress, and she also showed another that she made from the original pattern, way back in the early 1990s!

Gotta love those Thimbleweed girls!

 

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Thimbleweeds to the Rescue

Lynn in her classroom in Berekuso, Ghana

Lynn in her classroom in Berekuso, Ghana

It seemed like such an easy thing to do!  After all, school was just starting in Albuquerque and every store in the world had school supplies on sale.  I was scheduled to give a lecture for my very local quilt guild, Thimbleweeds.  It had been started by my good buddy, Donna Barnitz, some 20+ years ago.

Donna with her Birthday Quilt, made by her Thimbleweed Friends

Donna with her Birthday Quilt, made by her Thimbleweed Friends

Donna is so full of energy and enthusiasm!  Her favorite sentence begins with, “I think we should . . . ”  And so it goes.  For 22+ years we have been friends and she has greatly enriched my life.  So, when she asked if I would do a lecture for Thimbleweeds, I was proud to say, “Of course” even though I am well aware that, as an arm of the City of Rio Rancho, their group has no funds to pay for visiting speakers.  Instead, Donna asked if there was something else that they might do to show their thanks.   Immediately, if not sooner, I asked for school supplies for Lynn’s school in Berekuso.  Donna spread the word and by the time I showed up to speak the supplies were mounting on the table in the back of the room.

School Supplies

School Supplies

And, they just kept on coming!

Thimbleweeds Donation of School Supplies

Thimbleweeds Donation of School Supplies

In the days and weeks following that meeting, members kept on dropping off school supplies at my home.  Some of my Hawks Aloft friends also contributed to the cache.  In the end, I shipped some 12 or so boxes of supplies to Lynn who will now have some tools to help her African students learn.

Lynn will be collecting supplies until early November when she will ship a container of materials to Ghana for her use when she arrives.  I am proud to be a part of this effort.  And, I am even prouder of my Thimbleweed friends who are so generous!

Please contact me if you would like to contribute to the effort.  I can send you contact information to contribute directly to Lynn.

 

 

 

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