The Airing of the Quilts 2010

October 23, 2010 at 11:51 am Leave a comment

Airing of the Quilts 2010

It doesn't get much better than this!

Tunkhannock is a tiny little town in the Endless Mountains region of northeastern Pennsylvania.  It has an admirably vibrant main street, beautiful Victorian architecture, treacherous winters, and traffic jams on high school football game nights.  In many ways, it’s just like a lot of other picturesque American towns that we drive past on the highway at 65 mph.  But Tunkhannock has Jeannette Kitlan.

Jeannette’s quilt shop, Endless Mountains Quiltworks, is definitely a destination quilt shop, and I’m very glad that the Northeast Pennsylvania Shop Hop introduced me to it.  In 2002, just a year after opening the shop, Jeannette started The Airing of the Quilts, an open-air quilt show, held rain or shine, the first Saturday in October.  Home- and shopowners along Tioga Street, the main street in town, hung out family quilts if they had them, and borrowed quilts from Jeannette and the local quilt guild if they didn’t.  In just a few short years, this little display has expanded to also incorporate indoor quilt exhibits at the theater, the Catholic church, and the middle school; annual quilt-related speakers or performances at the theater; lunches provided by multiple community organizations; a quilt block contest; and a trolley to ferry attendees around to the various events.  What started as a little quilt show has turned into a full-fledged town-wide fall festival, and I know I’m not the only one who travels in from several hours away to be a part of it.

This year, the featured speaker at the Dietrich Theater was Gail Kessler.  Owner of the ever-fabulous Ladyfingers Sewing Studio in Oley, PA, she is also the marketing director for Andover Fabrics in New York City.  Gail delivered a fascinating presentation called, “From Concept to Cloth,” about how quilting fabric is designed, manufactured, and ultimately makes it into the quilt shops.  Although my guild had hosted a speaker on a similar topic within the last year, Gail added significantly to my knowledge on the subject.  For example, I didn’t know that Jinny Beyer was the first fabric designer to design fabric specifically for quilters.  She also discussed licensed fabric designs, such as the Olivia and Eric Carle fabrics Andover currently manufactures, and revealed that there aren’t many actual quilters working for the quilting fabric companies.  That’s why, so often, details like providing proper seam allowances between panels are ignored.  She also displayed many quilts made as examples of different fabric lines.  A fascinating and entertaining talk; and since it was held in a theater, we got to eat popcorn while listening.

Gail Kessler

Gail Kessler at the Dietrich Theater, 10/2/10

We had an absolutely beautiful day for walking around Tunkhannock.  The exhibit at the Catholic church was very interesting, featuring quilts made by a group of friends who would go on retreat together and each make her own version of the same design; I wish they had displayed the groups of similar quilts together, rather than displaying each quilter’s work separately, but other than that quibble with exhibit design, I really enjoyed it.

Tree of Life

"Tree of Life," by Lorraine Ezbiansky, 2001

The show at the middle school was also interesting, featuring “The Pennsylvania Invitational” quilt show.  Quilters from throughout Pennsylvania were invited to select a signature work for display.  Therefore, several of the quilts were ones I’d seen before in various venues, but as several were many years old, seeing them again was quite welcome.

Peaceable Kingdom
“Peaceable Kingdom,” by Cheryl Kennesties, Wyoming, PA, 1998

Pinwheels was among the vendors at the show, and they worked their usual mojo on me, so I left with a couple of taupes.

We finished at the shop, which was packed with eager shoppers, and therefore didn’t actually buy anything due to the mad crush and long lines.  My mom will be returning there within the next few weeks for the Shop Hop, so she’ll get a second bite at the apple.  This will be the first time I’ve missed a shop hop in years, but with good reason:  as appropriate as it might be for my child to be born in a quilt shop, I don’t know that anyone else would appreciate it much.  Plus, the entertainment value to me provided by the fact that my dad will have to chauffeur my mom around to the various shops this year is rather priceless.

I do wish, though, that I had gotten the opportunity to thank Jeannette for starting this event, and to congratulate her on how it’s grown.  It’s really gratifying and inspiring to see how one woman’s passion for quilting can bring a whole community together to produce something beautiful, and I’m grateful for the chance to share in it.


Entry filed under: Fabric Shopping, Quilt Shows, Travel. Tags: .

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