Archive for June, 2011

Batik Beauty Received from Betty

June 28, 2011

Well, the weather is finally getting hot for the summer, and I’m spending every spare minute in my basement where I have my quilting studio set up. I’m trying to pull together about 50 quilts to take with me to Ethiopia in November.

Fortunately, I’m not doing it all alone. I often get help from my friends, Brenda and Cheryl. And my postman has been rather busy this month as well, bringing quilts and tops. I received one cute top from Lisa in Florida, which is on it’s way to a longarmer. Then I received 5 more wonderful tops from Donna in New York, which are in the process of being kitted up for sending to longarmers.

This week I received a very cute quilt from Betty in Missouri. Betty picked up some material for making it at the Houston International Quilt Festival in 2010, where we had a booth. Here’s a picture of that quilt:

Great thanks to Betty, Lisa and Donna for making my week! It’s so nice to open packages with the fruits of your labors and creativity! I know that the children who receive these lovely quilts will cherish them!

Readers, if there are some among you who have picked up kits from our booth in Houston to make tops, or if you’re among our longarmers and happen to have a pile of un-quilted tops waiting to be finished, or finished quilts hanging around waiting to be returned to us, take advantage of the opportunity to stay out of the summer heat and take the time to finish them up for us. We’d love to be able to take them with us when we go on our next trip to Ethiopia.

If you’re not sure where to send them, please contact me at and I’ll give you my address or the address of another volunteer who will be going with us.

Thanks very much!


Four Very Cute Quilts from Kathy in Portland

June 21, 2011

When I’m kitting up tops with backs, binding and labels to send out to long-arm quilters, I often find myself commenting on how cute some of them are — and wishing I could quilt them all myself!  Noreen sent me about thirty tops fairly recently, and there are an awful lot of cute ones in the group.  I sent four of them off to Kathy Morrison in Portland, Oregon, and yesterday I received them back in the mail.  Wow!!!  All four of them are just as cute as they can be!   They were cute as tops, but they’re truly wonderful now!!

Kathy did all four of these with adorable pantographs from Ellen Munnich’s Quilt Recipes.   Kathy picked the perfect match for each of the quilts:  Bunny rabbits with hearts, water lilies,  construction machines and dinosaurs!    Please click on the photos for a larger image.  And for close-ups and better shots of the quilting, check out the photos on Kathy’s website:

Kathy is just starting up her business, but if these four wonderful quilts are any indication, she’s headed for success!  Kathy, thank you!  There will be four little children very happy to snuggle in these!  And piecers in Portland will be happy to discover you’re in business!



Musings on Father’s Day

June 19, 2011

Father’s Day is always bittersweet for me, as my dad, Frank Triemer, passed away over 20 years ago.  He took our family to Ethiopia in the mid 1950’s, when I was two, on what was supposed to be a 3-year contract.  He went with the State Department on a mission to help the Ethiopians to build their airline, and after the first 3-year contract he remained there under contract to TWA for an additional 6 years.  I was 2 years old when I arrived there, so I spent the majority of my “Wonder Years” living in Addis Ababa.

Growing up there was, in retrospect, a true adventure, and completely unlike living would be in the US.  We went to American schools, first the Army Dependents school and then a missionary school, and my mother taught at both schools.  We had servants, not because we thought we needed them but because we were assured by fellow American ex patriots that it was the “right” thing to do — good for the people, good for the economy, and good for us.    My father, a man of sensible Kansas roots, made sure that we didn’t grow up being spoiled and “over-privileged”, that we would treat the household staff with respect and appreciate the work they did.   His efforts to make sure we didn’t grow up as whiny brats once led him, when I was whining that I didn’t have the “right” shoes for some occasion, to put me in the car and take me to the Mercato (the shopping area), to show me a beggar with no feet.   He always wanted to make sure we understood how lucky we really were.

My sister and I played with the children of the staff and the little Italian kids from across the street, speaking an amalgamation of three languages.  My father exposed us to cultures other than our own, taking us to countries on four continents to see the sights, hear the languages, taste the foods and experience the differences.   But he was always a proud American, a WW2 Marine who had fought at Iwo Jima, and while he was very proud of our travels and the world view we developed, he made sure we always understood our American heritage and that as Americans we had been born lucky, “the most fortunate people on earth.”

He took great pride and joy in the work he did at Ethiopian Airlines, really loved it and his American, European and Ethiopian co-workers.  His goal was to make sure it became a world-class airline, and I believe he and his coworkers were successful at that endeavor.  I very much look forward to flying on that airline when I return to Addis Ababa in November.   After 9 years in Ethiopia, when our family left there to move back to the States, the flight we took was entirely staffed by Ethiopians, from the maintenance, to the flight attendants, to the pilots.  This was the very first entirely Ethiopian-staffed flight, and it was a great tribute to my father and the work he did for Ethiopian Airlines.

Let’s take this Father’s day to appreciate the men in our lives, our fathers and our husbands.  Over the years I’ve seen a lot of quilters’ husbands with them at shows and shops.  Some of these fellows seem to attend to carry the bags, others are involved in picking out fabrics, and there are even a few who proudly wear the mantle “Quilter” — like the fellow I saw wearing a shirt that proclaimed, “No, I’m not a lost husband!  I’m a Quilter, too!

One of the male quilters I’d like to honor today is Richard Miller.  You’ve seen on past blog posts some of the tops that Richard has made for us.  I honestly don’t know how many he’s made, but I suspect it’s at least 30 in the last year or so.  Richards tops are always beautifully made, cheerful, colorful, and fun for both boys and girls.  He’s assisted in these endeavors by his wife, Martha, who has recently been making some tops herself.   Thanks to both of you!

I got the quilting gene from my father’s mother, and my husband, Cliff, was quite supportive of my picking up what he thought was a “nice cheap hobby.”  Yeah, right!  Thousands of dollars have been spent over the last 10 years, as my first quilt eventually turned into a voluminous stash,  several sewing machines, a mid-arm and a long-arm, and the construction to have the basement re-done as a quilting studio!  After the first year of my hobby, as it was becoming an obsession, Cliff started saying, “but how many quilts do we need?”  As he became concerned that we might run out of family members, I discovered Quilts Beyond Borders, which brought together my love of Ethiopia and Quilting.  How much better can it be than to be able to do something you really love, for children who need and will treasure the results of your work?   And the opportunity for me to do this for Ethiopian children is such a bonus.  I greatly appreciate my husband’s somewhat bemused support of my “nice cheap hobby”, and  he appreciates that I have an outlet for all these quilts!

Another quilters’ husband and father that I’d like to honor today is Rodger Fling.  His wife, Noreen, and daughter, Holly, are two of the founders (along with June Colburn) of Quilts Beyond Borders.  I suspect that Rodger initially thought, like Cliff did, that this charity would be a nice activity for his wife and daughter to be involved in.  While Cliff has the good fortune that I’ve only expanded my hobby to every square inch of the basement, Rodger’s entire life and house has been taken over by quilts.  At last count I believe Noreen had about 400 in various stages being prepared for transporting to Ethiopia, transporting to long armers, being kitted up for sewing at shows, being bound, etc., etc., etc.   Rodger recently completed building of shelves for holding and organizing some of these many quilts — which will probably free up many of the flat surfaces so they can be used.  For still MORE quilts!   I suspect when Rodger is finally transported to the pearly gates, on clouds of quilts, there will be a very BIG halo waiting for him.

I asked Noreen to tell me a few things about Rodger’s activities with QBB.  She replied, “Rodger is a big part of QBB. He has been involved with nearly all phases of QBB.  He started in 2007, cutting fabric, helping to sandwich fabric, batting and backs, and going to Houston International Quilt Show for two weeks.  Rodger  spent hours adding volunteer names to our the QBB data bank and he keeps our bank accounting.  Together we package quilts for shipping,  he gets to move everything.”

So, today on Father’s day, let me give a big “THANK YOU!” to Richard, Rodger, the fathers who made us who we are, and the husbands who put up with and support this magnificent creative obsession!

Now, let’s all go quilt!  Regards,


Karen’s account of the trip

June 7, 2011

I was on a flight to Frankfurt, Germany and then another to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Others were somewhat shocked and frankly, it seemed very surreal to me.  This was a trip I had never dreamed of nor longed for but, apparently, it was my destiny.

I worried some about being recognized by the driver who would pick me up at the airport.  But, one of my friends noted that I would probably be the only white haired grandma in the airport.  I agreed this was probably true.  What a surprise to find a very “full” airport and almost all Americans!  I learned that all of these people were on some sort of volunteer mission for the Ethiopians.  Truly, I have never been prouder of my country than that moment.  The driver found me, I didn’t need to worry about that.

Four years prior, I had made an innocent query of my God, “I have lived the good life, is there nothing I can do for you?

Just months later, I was to join up  with Quilts Beyond Borders and became involved in creating about 100 quilts per year, much due to generous donations of my neighbors at Lake Cavanaugh, Gold Canyon Arizona and also famly in San  Diego.  The creation of those quilts was all by the quilters in Gold Canyon, AZ – about 2 dozen of them  Some went to Ethiopia and some went to tent city in Haiti. In all, we were always thrilled to see them go to those, in need.

So…, last December, I was asked to help deliver quilts.  I joined 3 others, whom I had never met and we met up at a guest house in Addis, spending the next week , delivering quilts and researching orphanages who might need them in the future. We visited 4 orphanages and one child care center (for 4000 children).

In all, I think we saw institutions representing around 5000 orphans.  We were  pleased to see the good care these children were getting, as well as good education.  There are 4 million orphans in Ethiopia.  If all get such good care, Ethiopia will have a bright future.

The highlight of the trip was the “quilt giving” ceremony at the Ahope orphanage.

The children 4-10 are in a facility referred to as Little Hope.  The older children, of course, reside at Big Hope.  We passed out quilts to all, and those smiles will never be erased from my mind.  These children do not own the clothes on their back, but they own their quilt and that is a true source of joy.

A group of 11 AHope children came to our guest house each night to learn hand sewing.  Eager and enthusiastic, they dived into the projects and left us scrambling for new projects the next night.  It was especially nice, to get to know them “one on one”  They are kids, just like other kids but maybe just a little vein of loneliness running through.  On the 5th night, we said goodbye, with sadness. But, we felt we had kindled a fire for sewing and we left them with all the supplies to continue on.

Into every life there is an angel and ours was Charlene, originally from Whidbey Isl.  She now lives in Addis and has become our liason.  She can find orphanages who need quilts, store quilts and dispense craft supplies to those who need.  She also loves our mission so it was great to have her rooting us on.

We went, not knowing, that AHope was an awesome orphanage, staffed by people who are not only intelligent but who really care about kids.  Big Hope’s kids were leaders and mentors for the Little Hope kids.   We didn’t measure up to all the Hope that was there, but we did wrap them in quilts; we put huge smiles on their faces and as the cold season approaches, they can snuggle in.

In Hope, Karen Vander Stoep

175 quilts delivered!

June 4, 2011

I just got back from Ethiopia and we delivered 175 quilts to 3 orphanages.  We  gave each child a quilt in the AHope orphanage.  These children are all HIV positive.  There were 79 children and 2 more arrived the day we delivered.  Luckily we had included 5 additional quilts for just such a situation.  We also spent 5 days teaching sewing to 11 of the children who expressed an interest in learning.  We gave them each a doll and taught them how to make clothes and necklaces for the dolls.  We even had 2 boys who participated.  We also taught them how to make yo-yo’s and they absolutely loved making them.  They made necklaces with the yo-yo’s, embellished headbands with them and adorned their dolls with them.  We also taught them how to make scrunchies.  They were absolutely fearless in learning and so enthusiastic.

We gave 30 quilts to Door of Hope Humanitarian Service.  Fekade will carry those quilts to orphans in Ziway which is 160 km. from Addis Ababa.  He promised to provide pictures when he delivers the quilts.  He will be opening another orphanage in Addis this fall which will be for disabled children.  He is anticipating that he will need another 200 quilts for those children.

Additionally, we gave 60 quilts to Bethzatha Children’s Home Association.  Samuel had asked for 120, but we only had 60 left.  We are hoping to make another trip this fall and should be able to get the rest of the 60 to the orphanage then.  Samuel has orphanages in several regions in western and southern Ethiopia in addition to the one in Addis.

People always ask why we don’t ship the quilts.  Mainly it is because of the cost.  It is horribly expensive to ship to Ethiopia because Ethiopia is landlocked so shipments have to go by ship and then across land.  Our organization just doesn’t have that kind of money.  Additionally, transportation is rather unreliable.  We talked to an American couple who lives in Addis most of the year.  They had a small package that took nine months to arrive.  So we will continue to have all of our quilts hand carried to Ethiopia which makes distribution somewhat slow, but ensures the quilts do arrive.

You can see pictures of the children receiving the quilts at additionally, there are other pictures of Addis from our travels around the city.  Maybe you will see a quilt that you made.