Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Holidays
We have come to the end of the year and a lot to show for it. just to touch on a few: 

  • The first teaching in a Botswana Village (Manyana) Which went extremely well and the ladies did such lovely work.
  • Exhibition at The Straube Center NJ. 
  • Exhibition at The Burrison Gallery University of Pennsylvania PA.
  • The store has hired one new lady who brings a lovely smile everyday no matter what her job is.
  • AND....AND.....KQ has its QR code :) YAY

( I am going to keep adding to this post as my mind is on holiday haha)

Looking forward to next year. 

  • We are hoping to teach five new groups of ladies (approx 50 ladies) the skill of sewing and patchwork so they can enhance their meager wages and improve their way of life. All these ladies will have dependents that rely on them. Due to the high AIDS epidemic in this country and the strong family ties, one lady might have many dependents and not all will be her biological children. One of the ladies working for us (she has gone from a maid to a manager with a heart of gold) has 8 dependents, of which only 3 are her kids. The other 5 are relatives who have lost both parents or their parents are sick and cant look after them. SO this is a situation dear and near to our hearts, we MUST do what we can to help the women of this lovely country come out and better their lives so the kids can do the same. 
  • We will be hiring our next lady in January to come help part time on bookkeeping. Bookkeeping is not my favorite thing in the world, trust me.
  • We have a local exhibition planned in March here at Sanitas
  • I am working on a possible West coast exhibition for later next year.
  • So much more I cant even think....restructuring of staff for more creative input....going to the First Southern African Quilt show in SA this year........Having a mock Quilting Safari in hopes of a GREAT on in 2013......Going EVEN more GREEN......its endless, oh the possibilities for 2012.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hello after so long :) And a special DUMELLA to all my new followers, Thank you
Well we have been so busy at KQ I have had no time to Blog at all. I plan to take time off after Christmas and see what all my friends and people I follow have been up to.
I thought before I forget lets put some pictures up of my new series, sorry the colour is a bit off but I had to get quick pictures of them before they went to new owners. A little background first. My husband passed away almost 3 years ago leaving me with a new business and two lovely little kids. My daughter is 7 now and her Setswana name is Sethunya meaning flower bud, her series is to come later. My sons Setswana and main name is Mowana, the local name for the Baobab tree. The tree of life, mighty and bold. Let me tell you he is living up to his name, he is 10yrs old full of love, life and compassion (and as tall as I am 5'10") This series is mostly for him and his dad who is represented by the moon. Whenever the kids see the moon they say dad is looking down on them, a star was just not good enough for him. So this series is called Mowana Moonscapes. In Botswana we have lovely moons so bold and bright its fantastic, also a bit sereal at times, like a sci-fi picture. The Mowana trees are unbelievable. The local story of the Mowana tree is that many years ago God was angry at man and picked up the tree and threw it down. This is why it looks like the tree is growing roots.
Well enough said, back to work. All these were sold before they hit my wall so off to the drawing board for more before Christmas.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Map Quilt and KQ kids behind the sceens

The Maru-a-Pula wall quilt is done Wheeeew. What a job and what fun. This picture is of it laid out on the floor of my store. It takes up 3/4 of the length of the floor, we had to move the massive cutting table and other stuff so we could check every inch of it for quality and straightness. ( It is machine sewn and ALL hand quilted) I cant wait to see it hung up in the new wing of the Library at MAP. Every piece in here is a Bali batik, for some reason Batiks are the largest part of my fabric collection. The quilt will hang on a wall 5 meters wide by 3 meters high. Ahhhhh to be done with this is an amazing feeling. The thoughts on hanging it was troubling. There are no ideas on the web for such a large quilt so finally decided on 6 smaller sleeves on the back with eye hooks on the wall and boards through the sleeves so the quilt will look like it is floating on the wall and add another bit of astonishment. By the way, this was quilted in my mothers back garden by 2 ladies and 1 man while kids come and go to school. One of the reasons I started KQ was to have ladies be able to earn an income while at home watching their kids and monitoring the schooling so as to help further the education of the next generation. All three were below minimum wage before KQ and their kids had to live in the Village while they worked just to survive. Now all 8 kids are doing really well and living with their mothers and going to good schools. ( My mom was a teacher all her life and has instilled GREAT studies and provided extra reading material for them and their friends too, anything to further education.) 2 of the kids ( I call them my boys too) are over here right now for a sleepover with my kids. Hallelujah is my sons best friend and top of his class, while Andrew (named after my brother) is my daughters friend and as smart as his older brother. All 4 playing away on the computer :) Such a lovely life we lead here.

Friday, October 14, 2011


How Green is Kalahari Quilts? Talking to a wonderful customer the other day called Chiho Suzuki who was as enthusiastic about the small things as I am by the way. I realized I had not actually explained this in my Blog yet. WE ARE VERY GREEN. We care about our footprint.  Living in a place where the fabrics cost twice what they cost in the States, and where people all around us are scratching for every penny we care a lot about wastage. Here is a picture of our final step. Our "Threads of Africa" is made up of the smallest bits of fabric we have. After a quilt is made we keep the scraps in a huge Botswana Basket. From there we make our ornaments and small things.
 Shown here are our Hut Ornaments which I also use as my gift hung around the wine bottle neck when I go for dinners, and our "Mpopi" which means doll in Setswana.
The scraps from these items are used to make the "Threads of Africa" A technique I designed myself (I am sure I am not the first) We only throw away a small trash can once a week and that usually consists of my paperwork (also used on both sides) and used tea bags haha, we LOVE Bush tea in the store. So GREEN WE ARE :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A quick look at the store

Here are some pictures of the store July 2011
Looking at Hester's first quilt from my class, she is on the Right. :) Me in the middle and Mirrium my manager on the left. I wish I could say I have a thatched hut in the middle of the desert as my store but that is closer to my 5yr dream. For now I have a cute store in a lovely location called The Craft Market. My second store will be thatched with a Lappa for classes and coffee outside with warthogs walking through. Never stop dreaming.
Here is our upside down Mowana (Baobab) tree that holds our threads from the ceiling with fairy lights.

Monday, September 19, 2011

MAP Wall Quilt

So you may have seen my Crazy Cobblestone quilt, well this is a peek at it again. The story behind the story. I was on my last day of work (a Sat) before leaving for the nice 3 week vacation we just had in California and Vancouver. Mr Taylor came into the store and we chatted about this wall he wanted a quilt for. No problem right? Well I went in to see this monstrosity the day before I left and WOW was all I could say. And when is this due? Mid October (I was only to be back Sept 8th with jet lag and all) OK I will do it. I had already started another of these quilts for my store so if he liked it 1/5 of the work was done before I left. Before I had even put the picture on the table he said....Thats the one, thats what I want, just like this but bigger....Thank you God, or I would never have gotten it done. We arrived back on Thursday night and Friday morning I was to work. I clocked in 72hrs this week to get the patchwork and design part done. I have just today taken it to make sure this monstrosity fits on the wall and it was PERFECT. I have handed it over to my main quilter Lorato to organize the quilting. We do ALL our quilting by hand on these. It will take 3 people 3 weeks to quilt it by hand. Lorato is the large quilting job manager (we do this at my moms house so she can look after her kids....and my mom hahaha), Lydia quilts in the store and is such a hard loyal worker, and KT our right hand MAN....yup, man. He has the best quilting stitch of all and he also does all our driving as well as helping me with school pick up when I have classes. We should have one week lee way on this in case of problems and also to figure out how to hang such a large quilt, basically a double queen size.
I am exhausted but happy and proud. I have not shown a complete view of the design as we want a bit of a surprise when its done and will wait for the grand opening of the Library for unveiling of this. Now I need a good name.....any suggestions other than monstrosity?

MAP Library wall 3M by 5M

This is the Library wall I have to make a quilt for, 3M by 5M WOW.
Let me introduce you to Andy Taylor the Headmaster of Maru-a-Pula school, my lovely old High school. Mr Taylor was a teacher, while I was there and now he is an inspiration to me as well as the one who pushed me to make these works of Art. The first quilt made for anyone outside of my family was for Mr Taylor. He needed a gift for his sister and when it was completed he said sorry Jenny I can’t give her this, it belongs on my office wall, you’ll have to make me another one, sorry. Well as the years have gone on he is the biggest collector of my quilts both for him and for gifts. He inspired me to start the business and thanks to him when my husband passed I had Kalahari Quilts and I LOVE WHAT I DO.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vacation time

Well guys, I am sitting in Vancouver at the moment but thought I should just check in. I have been to San Jose to visit my late husbands parents for 2 weeks with my two lovely kids. What a blast we have had, sailing races, Giants ball game, Great America, swimming in the pool and of course shopping. I found a quaint little quilt shop in San Fransisco called Sweat Pea. The owner is a friend of the family's daughter in law. Does that make sense haha. I also went into several fabric shops to bring in some new fat quarters for the store. It's really just an excuse to go shopping, but it adds to the variety of FQ's we have so it all works out for the best. I dont have much room but what there was is stuffed with fabrics lol. I love this trip. What fun it has been. I will be back to normal when I get back in a week, give or take a day or two for jet lag.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Little Art Quilts

And more little quilts while I work on my stars. I want to sew tonight and get off this computer for a while. I am trying to take photos of the step by step process I use for the Batik stars. In the mean time I loved these two little quilts. The black and white one has some hand stitching as well as staples. This happened when my daughter needed something stapled together (crafty thing that she is) and I just had to try it on the quilt I was working on. FUN FUN FUN

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fun Fun Day, Manyana

Well here it is. The certificate and prize giving out at Manyana Village. What a FUN FUN day that was.

I would just like to say a word about going out into a village and teaching. There is a BIG miss conception here about teaching ladies (or men) a new skill. Firstly we were asked how many sewing machines we needed to hire...... HOLD ON... I will not go and teach these lovely willing ladies how to do something they cannot continue. Most of them do not even have power in their homes, how are they supposed to use a sewing machine even if they could afford it....NO...We will teach by hand, and on fabrics they can afford. The quilting fabrics are expensive anyways, well, add on customs, VAT, shipping etc. One yard is about what they spend on food for a week. We found some good but cheaper quality cotton as well as explaining how to use the dreaded Polycotton. These ladies did these quilts all by HAND. They can also make bags, baby balls, pillow cases...things they can sell in and around the village as well as craft fairs.

Congratulations ladies of Manyana, you did a fantastic job. Well done :)
A special thanks must go out to my mother Mrs Case (handing out the certificates) for it was she that did all the hard work on the syllabus and preparations, fabric hunting....ah heck, she did all the background work to make this happen. Lorato and KT for their skills as teachers. We have to of course teach in Setswana and they did a fantastic job at it. Thanks to Ludibo and the Lutheran Church for funding this program and finding us to do this. You are all stars in my book.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Batik stars

I have chosen this quilt to walk through with the processes and thoughts unique to quilting in Botswana. The first thing that comes to mind is that I do a lot of sewing and dream of having a nice Burnina quilting machine. Two problems on this front. Firstly there is no one in Botswana that can fix one anyway. There are ways around this, friends go back and forth to South Africa and I know they would take it, I just hate asking friends for favors. Secondly I am a widowed mother of two lovely kids so the expense is above what I can do. Singer is well known here so I stick with my old and faithful. She has never let me down but does not have the fancy stuff you will see in other blogs about quilters. Here it is good old fashioned sewing for now :)

This quilt will have stars of different colours in bands of bright batik sashing. I just cant decide which center I like, I think I am going for the middle one. The top one is nice but looks like ears of a star. The bottom one I think is just to fussy. I liked the idea originally of the different colour for the center but when I see it I think in the whole quilt it will look messy. So middle it is. Off to sew more while I watch some Boston Legal.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Small 8" Quilts framed

When I work on small quilts I tend to have a lot of stuff next to me. I had cut out this lovely African lady and places her down next to me. WOW I would not have necessarily picked this fabric for the background but I was in love at the marriage of the two fabrics. The hues and colors just were meant to be. The strips on the side were not a fluke, I had paired them to be with her. I had cut a frayed them for extra texture and love weaving fabrics so that was a natural for me.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Color Play

I am a simplest at heart. I love plain squares with color as the play factor. I spend hours coloring my grid paper for a new quilt in the color series. Here is MY new bed quilt. For 10 years I had the first quilt I ever made on my bed and it bothered me as I did not understand the maths involved in quilting at the time, and it did not match my mind. I have saved up squares of my favorite fabrics in the colors in my bedroom. Pink, Purple, Blue, Turquoise and green. This is a square king size bed, so the quilt pattern is a perfect square which is my favorite for designing. I love maths and patterns which all show up in the color play series. Here is another in the series to show the love of color play.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A note from Jenny

I would just like to point something out if you have not already noticed it. I AM TERRIBLE AT WRITING. I am English/American and English is my first language but my brain just does not like it ha ha ha. I do not however believe that this should stop me from trying and doing my best. I do use my spell check but I am pretty sure it is broken as often times it cant even figure out what I am trying to say. I think I have worn out the part of my screen where the spell check is, from such abundant use. I am also know for making up FABULOUS new words and actually find it fun to try and get out of my mouth what my brain is trying to say. If I could express myself in color and design with a touch of logic problems and math... well I would be able to enter MENSA I am sure, but spelling and grammar are my downfall, NOT my lack of words just my lack of spelling the words :) So please enjoy my Blog and laugh at my writing, for every laugh and smile I can give someone enriches my life too.

Laural our Intern

A couple of days ago we had fun in the store, as usual doing crazy weird and fabulous things. This day was no different except there was no quilting, designing or classes involved. Notice Laural our Intern for 7 weeks from U-Pen. Up on the cutting table taking pictures of our products for a flier, product catalogue and brochure we are planning. We later realised it was easier on the floor and the lighting was not compromised by this hahaha, well we are know for thinking outside of the box. This was one of those days. The store was a bit messy and two favorite customers were in with show and tell as well as to shop. WHAT FUN........

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our teacher Lorato and the lovely ladies in Manyana

I will write more on these lovely ladies and their journey through quilting after we have done the certificate ceremony. In Botswana having a certificate after completing a course is so very important. These ladies have worked hard and have done a fantastic job, we are so proud to have been a part of this. I have to give HUGE thanks to my mom Mrs Case for all of the hard work behind the scenes. Setting up the classes, forming the layout of a handbook, and basically doing everything for this project. A big thanks to Lorato who was our primary teacher for doing such a great job. We have to teach in Setswana and some of the words are not translatable which caused quite a few laughs and hand motions hahaha.

Crazy Cobblestones in Manyana Village

Well here it is at long last. The picture of the Cobblestone Quilt. This picture was taken out at Manyana Village where KQ is teaching some local Village ladies how to Quilt for extra income. I have to say my heart is sore to see this picture. I worked so hard on this quilt and it sold in 2 days. At least it has a happy home and I know the owner :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crazy Cobblestone

This was a fun project for me. Crazy cobblestones. I took a queen sized sheet and cut it into strips in half inch increments starting from 5 1/2 up to 10. I then sewed the crazy blocks and cut them to the closest size I could also in the half inch increments. Pinning them to the sheet took forever. I think I really must have a design wall but space is an issue. This is the last picture I have of it before it was completed. We put it into the store on Sat (we are closed on Sun) and it was sold on Tue. I was trying to explain to one of my student how to put binding on her quilt and noticed she was not looking at me but staring at the wall. She had to have this quilt. I begged for one more day to get pictures of it, so sent it to Manyana Village (where we teach 10 local ladies how to quilt through a project called Lodibo by the Lutheran church) with our ladies and KT to have pictures taken on the ruins there. Lets hope the pictures come out OK because the quilt is gone. I have to say it was my favorite one so far. It went to a good loving home though.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My INSANE Mowana tree
This tree is called Insane for two reasons.
  • I am Insane for even having the thought of this Art Quilt
  • I was medically insane when I started this Quilt. I had been poisoned by a regular medication I was taking and the withdrawal effects of this poisoning was brain shivers, lack of co-ordination and general feeling of drunkenness 24/7 for 5 weeks. To tell myself I would be OK and keep my fingers nimble I decided to start this quilt I had thought about for months by then. It helped that I was bed ridden and in need of something to do that did not need scissors and sharp objects. The lack of co-ordination and brain shivers made sewing on buttons extremely difficult but I persevered and hundreds (if not thousands) of needle pricks later....................... ITS DONE :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On the set of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency

This is a quilt made up of my favourite squares of African prints. What a pleasure it was to help the set designer find some fun stuff for his set on this series. He walked into my store and said "Wow, can I hire your whole stock for a week" I then politely asked him who he was haha.

Aldo's Aloes

Ah, my Aloe’s. The background on this one was hand painted using light sensitive paints and sticks to create a bursting effect. The Aloe’s are made up of different pieces of black silk, cotton, chiffon and satin fabrics steam a seemed on and embroidery quilted. The name comes from my best friend who fell in love with the quilt and ended up receiving it for his Birthday.