Tuesday, April 5, 2011

G'day From The "Other" Oz!!

G'day Everyone!

My name is Kris Meares and I’m the mad designer behind the pattern range of “Tag Along Teddies” ... where the bears just want to follow you home! :0) 

I live in a city called Toowoomba, which is in south-eastern Queensland, Australia. Many of you no doubt heard our city mentioned in January when we experienced an inland tsunami. Not the way we would have chosen to get onto the international Map!!

As well as being a designer of craft patterns for bears, dolls, stitcheries, wall hangings, patchwork bags and appliqué quilts ... 

... I am also the Co-host of the “One Project A Month” challenge ... better known as OPAM ...

... which is now in it’s third year and has seen almost 15,000 finishes recorded by participants since it began! (The number listed above is from January and has been updated since!!) And that’s how I met Annie, Miss Ruby Slipperz herself ... when she joined Peg (my OPAM Co-host!) and I for this year’s challenge, which encourages busy ladies all around the world to take a bit of time out for themselves to create and try to finish just one project each month.

Now as you’re probably already guessing, I do NOT have a problem with “chatting” ... in fact, as my Dad says, it’s SHUTTING ME UP that seems to be the tough part! Tee! Hee! Hee! And since I can type almost as quickly as I can talk ... well ... let’s just say I’m known for my epic blog post chats! :0) So when Annie, Miss Ruby Slipperz herself, invited me to do a guest post on her blog, I thought ... “Why not?” :0)

Having been given a free rein as to what I ‘chatted’ to you all about, I thought I’d tell you about my favourite quilting shop, the Quilters Angel at Highfields, which is 20 minutes drive north of Toowoomba ... and very handily, the same suburb where I work as an Administrative Assistant in the office of a Retirement Village of independent living units. There are some days (more than my Beloved Geek Boy hubby would like!!!!) where my car just automatically turns left to Quilters Angel instead of right to head home! :0) In fact, in our house, it is referred to as my “Home-away-from-home”! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Quilters Angel is owned and operated by a mother/daughter team, Marion and Steph Marshall and they are two of the NICEST and FRIENDLIEST people you could ever hope to meet! :0)

Stepping into their shop is like stepping out of the ‘real’ world into a quilter’s paradise ... fabric, notions, patterns (including some of my Tag Along Teddies range!), books, kits, BOMs, giftware ... oh I could go on ... and frequently do! Tee! Hee! Hee! And there’s always service with a smile! :0) But what impresses me the most about Marion and Steph is the way they put the heart into quilting.

As I mentioned to start with, you may have heard Toowoomba mentioned in January when we experienced unseasonably heavy rainfall for an extended time, which led to flash flooding and what was described as an inland tsunami swept through our creek system, damaging roads, businesses, vehicles and claiming the lives of a mother and son. However, the damage and destruction experienced in our city was not widespread and the water disappeared as quickly as it arrived ... unlike the small towns and rural properties east and below Toowoomba (which sits on top of the Great Dividing Range) in the Lockyer Valley. Whole towns were destroyed, around 30 people were killed and hundreds made homeless in an afternoon.
As you can imagine, everyone was pretty shell-shocked in the aftermath of this natural disaster. There was so much damage and so many people devastated that many people felt powerless to help. Not Marion and Steph!! Within days of the disaster, as it became clearer just how much people had lost, Marion and Steph launched a Flood Appeal Quilt Drive. They opened up their shop workroom for two days a week to anyone who would like to come and help, called for donations of fabric, batting, backing fabric, quilt tops, kits, finished quilts ... anything people would like to donate ... with the aim of making/collecting 100 quilts for the affected residents of the Lockyer Valley.

The response to Marion and Steph’s call has been HUGE!! Fabric reps and suppliers came forward with samples, off cuts, wadding and supplies, quilters from all over Australia raided their stashes to send supplies, quilt tops and finished quilts to help the cause, local long-arm quilters have donated their time to help with quilting and many local ladies have gathered regularly to cut, match, stitch, quilt and bind. When I was out there for this week’s working bee, the tally had reached ... brace yourselves ... a whopping 146 quilts since January 20 ... and still stitching! How AMAZING is that!!! Crafters truly are special people ... and two of the MOST special are Marion and Steph! Not only have they given their time to co-ordinate this special quilt drive and given their space to facilitate the participating stitchers, Marion and Steph have put a HUGE amount of their own out-of-shop-hours time and personal resources into making this happen. They truly are putting the heart back into quilting!! :0) Want to see a couple of the 146 quilts?? I thought you might!! :0)

Don't you just LOVE the gorgeous bright colours in this quilt?? Oh ... and Steph's cute toesies peeking out at the bottom there! Tee! Hee! Hee!

And a number of snuggly flannel Raggy quilts like this one have also been stitched with love for victims of the flood.

Marion is busily co-ordinating with the one of the Regional Councils in the affected area to organise a special morning tea where the quilts will be handed over to families that have lost so much. Insurance and government assistance can replace the ‘big’ things lost, but handmade gifts, like these quilts, will help make their houses feel more like ‘home’ again, as well as reminding them that they are in people's thoughts and hearts.

So there you are ... that’s my local patchwork shop, the Quilters Angel (which also has online shopping facilities! Tee! Hee! Hee!), and it’s own special ‘angels’ Marion and Steph Marshall. If you’d like to find out more about the Flood Appeal Quilt Drive, or the Quilters Angel, pop into their web site and say “G’day”! :0)

There you go ... I TOLD you that shutting me up is the hard part! :0) A big thank you to Annie for inviting me to do a guest post on her blog and it was lovely to ‘meet’ you all ... perhaps you’ll pop into my Tag Along Teddies blog sometime ... but you might want to make yourself a cuppa and get comfy first! Tee! Hee! Hee! Til next time ...




Mary Ann said...

I love your enthusiasm! Thanks for sharing!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Welcome Kris. Thank you for a wonderful post. Oh, I just grabbed my morning coffee and enjoyed. It was fun to re-visit your site (love teddies) and the Quilter's Angels. Thank you for sharing with us thru Annie's site.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post - glad to "meet" you today!
Jacque in SC

Maria said...

Interesting post Kris.

Sparky said...

What a great guest, with bear hugs no less...good choice annie.

Kerryanne @ Shabby Art Boutique said...

Hello Kris... and Ruby Slippers. Nice to see my 'beary' special friend popping up in all kinds of places. Enjoyed your guest post Kris and I marvel at those amazing angels Marion and Steph.
Hugs ~ Kerryanne

Anonymous said...

what a lovely post Kris,excellant reading.

RitaMarie said...

Yes indeed, welcome Kris:) Loved your post and was so touched to read of the kindness of your quilters. What a wonderful project.
Be sure to ask Annie to have you "over" for a visit again.
I'm off to visit your blog:)

rubyslipperz1052 said...

Kris, you truely are a sweetheart! That is awesome that The Quilter's Angel the vehicle to getting 146 quilts completed since January 20th! That is just AMAZING!


Peg - Happy In Quilting said...

No doubt about you, you do know how to do a good post...xx Peg

Unknown said...

Thank you for an amazing post.
Car Service Highfields Qld