Sisters Quilt Show 2007 - a poem

Sisters – a poem by Rosemary Styles

Read to us at a ‘Show and Tell’ in Klamath Falls on Sunday July 15 2007

 I have visited Sisters in Oregon

I am very glad that I had gone.

Sisters motel is where we stayed.

Fabric shops is where we played.

The quilted Forest and Stitchin Post
now which one did I look the most?

Sew many Quilts and Quilters Rooster

Gave my fabric stash such a booster

No classes there did I attend

Perhaps I did not comprehend

The fun and learning there intended

My disbelief now suspended.

And so I gave them all a miss which was for me quite remiss.

The teacher’s Lectures told their story

We saw their quilts in all their glory.

High Desert area well worth seeing

Of how the area came into being

The Garden quilts went down a treat.

With drinks and cookies for us to eat.

Picnic in the Park what can I say

Which brings us round to The Quilt Day

The feast of colour all around

Lit your eyes and could be found,

On houses, Fences, Businesses too, what a sight for us to view.

With Jackie as our mother hen, who tells us who, what, why and when.

And without Karin’s expertise we would not have had any of these

With Crater Lake to end the day just what is left for me to say

But thanks to Richard, Russ, Jerry and Chuck whose driving skills and driving luck have led us last Frisco bound on quilting trips we may be found

So thank you for your company that’s all you are going to hear from me.


PS Apologies to Mount Sherman for leaving out a mention of their show!



Many quilters have heard of the Sisters Outdoor quilt show – the largest in the world but few from the UK have managed to get there!

 Sisters is a small town (pop.1, 875) in the high desert area of Oregon USA. It is literally in the middle of nowhere and yet the town has hosted a quilt show for 32 years which this year attracted about 20,000. When I first suggested the trip to Arena Travel little did we realise the logistics of taking a group of 20 quilters to this remote area.

 We flew into Portland and had a half day tour of this attractive city before visiting our first quilt shop Greenbaums Quilted Forest in Salem, voted one of the top shops in the US. Then a 3 hour drive over the scenic Cascade Mountains to Sisters. We were so lucky to have accommodation in the local inn. Most quilters arrive in an RV or equipped to camp for the week!

 During the five days running up to the show there was plenty to do. Some attended classes and evening lectures with well known teachers in the local high school, others shopped until they dropped in the attractive craft centres in the town. On the first day we started a quilt walking tour around the town to see some of the 100 quilts already hanging in local shops, including the supermarket – would Tesco ever hang quilts we wondered? The mini heat wave meant temperatures were in the 90s so we soon adjourned to the Sisters coffee shop voted by us as being one of the nicest places to people and quilt watch. Arena Travel had arranged for us to visit the High Desert Museum, tour the quilts in local gardens and visit nearby Camp Sherman only 12 miles away, for their small quilt show. Each time a coach had to come out from Bend, 30 miles away, as there was no public transport in Sisters, apart from bicycle hire!

 The penultimate evening was spent at the Quilters picnic on the town green. This proved to be a real highlight and unlike any picnic we had ever experienced. There were over 800 quilters sitting on chairs at tables, served beautiful food by local teenagers and entertained by the local school band. Kaye England was the ‘after dinner speaker’ and had us all in fits of laughter as she told amusing stories about her quilts and explained that her new chicken shed was named ‘Cluckingham Palace’.

 On the morning of the show we were all up bright and early and walking around town shortly after see the quilts hung. The popular spot was watching the good looking fireman climbing ladders up the Stitchin Post Quilt shop building. Within two hours all 1200 quilts were hung and the town started to fill up with sightseers. Coaches arrived from Canada, California, Nevada and all over Oregon but the organisation was fantastic to watch, and there was plenty of room for everybody. As temperatures reached 100 degrees it was still easy to find a place to rest in air conditioned buildings and free bottled water was handed out to everybody. In between times we walked the town looking at special one woman quilt displays, the teacher’s tent and the block competition where three of our group had won ribbons! None of us were convinced we saw the whole show but we loved the atmosphere and friendliness. We were certainly a novelty! Over and over again we were welcomed because we had come all the way from the UK. Some of the group volunteered to help during the show and the best job had to be folding the quilts ready for barcode scanning at the end of the day – that way you could get a real close look!

After 6 days it was time to leave Sisters and drive on to San Francisco. On the journey time was spent at the amazing Crater Lake, America’s deepest inside an old super volcano; Klamath Falls; Mount Shasta and of course quilt shops! The favourite was Tater Patch which occupied an ‘old’ farmhouse in the middle of fields. Here, the whole building was crammed with fabric and quilts - including the bathroom, which became a problem as we each had to spend a long time in the loo. Each room had a fabric theme. The owners served us breakfast in the classroom, converted from a farm shed. We voted Tater Patch as one of the most original quilt shops we had seen.

 After two days in San Francisco, before catching the plane, we had just enough time to visit the San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum. Here we found special exhibits on the theme of war and patriotism. The hand embroidered textile hangings from Chile, South Africa and Cambodia were particularly moving as they depicted some of the dreadful atrocities that had taken place in those countries.

 Where can we go next…….? Arena Travel has planned quilting holidays in 2008 to Spain, California for the new International quilt show and a quilting cruise down the Rhine. In 2009 there will be a trip to the New Zealand Quilt Symposium and maybe Guatemala, an amazing country for textile inspiration. Will we go to Sisters again? We would love to, but maybe not for another couple of years as there are so many other places for quilters to visit!

 Karin Hellaby
published in UK quilting magazine 2007

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