I went on a little two-day road trip with my parents up to Edmonton this past week. The last couple years they’ve taken me somewhere within driving distance for a day or two as a kind of birthday gift, I suppose. I had originally planned to head down south to Waterton, which is a very pretty spot right up against the border with… Montana, I think, but they had terrible forest fires and so I had to readjust. So I thought I’d go into the mountains and see what’s what in the Lake Louise and Banff areas, but the forest fires in the North-West part of the US are drifting so much smoke up into the mountains that as my cousin (who lives in Canmore) says, ‘The tourists are going to have to photoshop the mountains into their pictures.’ It’s incredibly smoky up here and I can’t imagine how people are dealing with it any closer to the actual fires – I don’t have breathing problems generally, but it hurts to breath when I’m outside.
Basically, I decided to go north – out run the smoke – and we went up to Edmonton. Along the way we stopped at the Danish Canadian National Museum and Gardens in Dickson, Alberta, which I thought was a nice little sort of… work in progress museum. They have some neat things there, including a replica Viking small ship (Gokstadfæring) and some original buildings and exhibits of artifacts from the early days of Danish settlement in Canada. I come from the kind of nerdy family that likes museums and reading display cards explaining things and we’ve all been to practically every tiny, podunk museum in the Canadian prairies so this sort of thing appeals to us.
After that, we stopped in at Nuts for Bolts, a quilt shop in a barn on a farm somewhere in the Red Deer/Sylvan Lake area. It was a nice little shop with some pretty fabrics – lots of Tula Pink! – and I picked up a couple fat quarters:
I was prepared to say these were Heather Bailey prints – though I’m not sure why I thought that, since I tend to recognize her for her bold colour choices and more graphic style prints than these sweet, pretty blossoms. They all are selvedge-free, though, and I can’t seem to figure out who it is that has done that fan print elsewhere. I’m certain I own some of it in another colour! (That fan print is the one that made me think it was Heather Bailey.) Colour-wise, I’d peg this as Fig Tree Quilts, except that this shop doesn’t seem to sell Moda fabrics. I don’t know – let me know if you know who/what this is!
After that, we stopped in Ponoka, Alberta to see if my cousin Auvrey was working at the quilt shop there, Prairie Points Quilt Shop – by chance she was, and we really lucked out because it was her second-to-last day before quitting!
You can’t tell from this photo, but that white fabric is a text print! Naturally, I have no selvedge, so I can’t say what it is. The ghosts were my favourite thing I found in this shop and this seemed to be all they had left of it. No selvedge, of course. (I really fell down on the job of finding out what’s what.) I don’t often like these kinds of novelty prints all that much, but this one was cute and fun. The green is a print from P&B Textiles – I just liked that shade of green!
After that it was up to Edmonton. I spent too much money there, but mostly not on fabric! I went to the Muttart Conservatory, which by chance was hosting an exhibit called ZimSculpt of Zimbabwean stone sculpture. There were some really incredibly wonderful pieces, and I wish I had money to burn because I’d have come home with more than a few if I could have. These are some of my favourite, photographed inside the conservatory’s pyramids amidst the plants that are grown there.
Seated Bather by Gregory Mutasa
Walking by Cosmos Chifamba
Daydreaming by David White <– This is the one I most wanted to bring home and place in my imaginary garden.
Baboon by Wilfred Tembo
Bird Flock by Mike Katsvanga
United Women by Savi Chirwa
Alas, I couldn’t really afford any of the bigger sculptures, but I did pick up this smaller one:
This is Impala by Willard Bopoto, carved from Fruit Serpentine. Lovely!
Then I headed over to the Art Gallery of Alberta, which didn’t really blow me away. Only two floors of the gallery space were open and I’d guess that about half of it was devoted to the post-modern art, which isn’t particularly my favourite type of art. They had a few exhibits that I did enjoy, but I also got reprimanded by a guard for standing too close to a painting while I tried to see the detail – it was a very glossy painting and I was trying to look at it from an angle to see if it was actually behind glass or if there was some kind of glaze on it. (I really couldn’t say. I mean, I’m certain it couldn’t have been glass, but none of the other paintings had that kind of gloss on them that glared in the lights – seriously, it was THAT shiny.) Just a head’s up for everyone: accidents can happen to anyone, you don’t want one to happen to you. (I don’t blame the gallery person: it’s their job and it’s not untrue. But the lights are only good when you’re about 8 feet away and if you want to see any detail or even read the tiny type on the info cards, you need to be up close – it’s all shadow between that optimal viewing point and somewhere up fairly close. These also were Baroque era paintings, so they’re generally very dark anyway.)
After that it was one more quilt shop, Earthly Goods Quilting in Edmonton.
I have never done English Paper Piecing, but know so many people who love it, so I thought I’d give it a go with this little pin cushion kit. The fabrics in mine are quite different from the pattern picture, but they really didn’t photograph well. They’re all from a Zen Chic line, anyway, in oranges and green and black and white. Very cute.
I also picked up a bit of these Cotton and Steel prints from their Black and White line:
This photo kind of looks like I stripped out all the colour, doesn’t it? I had a chat with the shop owner (I think, anyway!) about Cotton and Steel and how she’d only brought in the the Black and White line because she was concerned it wouldn’t sell well and it was interesting to hear it from her perspective. Because I can see where she might not want to take a chance on, say, bowling score cards or whatever. That’s money and it’s going to take up space and it might be a really hard sell.
On the other hand, one of the things I tend to find frustrating about a lot of brick and mortar stores is that they tend to have a fairly narrow range of styles that they bring in (and this does certainly vary from shop to shop depending on the buyer and I assume their target market) and sometimes I think they focus too hard on their older clientele (not that I’m pinning that one on this shop, just a general statement) and don’t think about what might appeal to younger quilters or what might be kind of a gateway fabric for new quilters, regardless of age. There used to be a shop near where I used to live in Calgary, I can’t remember the name anymore, but they had a lot of florals and browns and reproduction prints in sweet, babyish colours or kind of dingy looking greyed out tones. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t bring in those things if they sell, but one the other hand, every time I went there I had to fight to find one or two prints that I felt could work in anything I was making (and I’m really not that modern a quilter!). When it finally closed down, it sort of made sense to me because I could imagine their shoppers aging or dying out of the craft and leaving no one to replace them. I mean, this is a lot of half-formed thoughts and I’m not quite sure what would happen if I were in charge of buying fabric for a shop. Probably nothing good!
Anyway, I think I should have suggested that the shop owner of Earthly Goods consider bringing in some of the basics – they really can go with nearly anything and there’s a nice range of colours and they’re not all weird prints that might sell only to the people shopping for the selvedges (because she did tell me that when she cut Fat Quarters of C+S prints for people, they’d always ask for the side with the selvedge) or for swaps.
Anyway, that was more or less my little trip! Not too much fabric, so I think I did pretty good at keeping myself restrained while still wanting to buy a little bit from everywhere I went!