New Zealander Quilters Tour the Area with Zest
By Kelly Cole
Friday, Oct. 21, seemed like a typical fall day in the area, but if one were to be traveling through Tunkhannock they may have encountered 30 zealous New Zealand quilters on a three-week U.S. tour.
The attraction in Wyoming County was the award-winning Endless Mountains Quiltworks store owned and operated by Jeannette Goeringer Kitlan since 2001. Back in March, Kitlan was contacted by Lesley Christiansen, a manager of the Pink Hat Ltd. quilt shop in New Zealand. Christiansen was arranging a special tour to take place in the fall and had googled quilt shops that would be along their route. She happened to come across Kitlan’s store and knew it was a must see.
Christiansen has been arranging tours for the past six years and gathers a group of quilters to visit quilting shops, quilting shows and local attractions. This year’s three-week tour was special, and the 30 ladies who attended received exclusive invitations. Not only did they all have a love for quilting, but they shared many of the same interests and had taken part in past trips.
The ladies embarked on the journey from New Zealand on Sunday, Oct. 16 and landed in San Francisco on the 16th as well. Having a 15-hour time difference can leave one weary from travel, but these ladies persevered and were ready to begin with their itinerary. Christiansen had a full schedule set up and had only shared portions with the ladies as she wanted to leave some points along their travels as a surprise and to keep things fresh.
While in San Francisco they took in the views of the city and harbor from Twin Peaks. They also attended the West Coast’s largest quilt show in Santa Clara, the Pacific International Quilt Show that was celebrating its twentieth year.
While the group flew across the country, they took in the beautiful scenery from their windows and marveled at how the land below looked much like a quilt and it inspired many of the ladies. The fall colors and landscape amazed them as they journeyed through Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York to Pennsylvania. They were not used to such scenery covering large portions of land. With New Zealand being a third of the size of California it would be understandable. Plus, they will be returning to the beginning of their summer, so this is quite a contrast.
This trip was not just to see quilt shops, but to take in popular sites of the places they visited. Such as Dr. Seuss’ National Garden in Springfield, MA and the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, which happened to impress the ladies with the four original Monets on display. During last year’s tour through France, they stopped at Monet’s home where Christiansen said they only had copies of his work. The New England Maple Museum was another highlight as maple trees do not grow in New Zealand, so it was a luxury to taste samples as they learned about the process it takes to turn the sap into syrup. They were also impressed by the covered bridges they came across, because there are none back home in New Zealand.
This group of Kiwi ladies was also keen on keeping up with the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and it was imperative that they set their alarms accordingly to gather around the laptop and catch as many of the games as possible.
When they made it to Tunkhannock, they still had gusto to shop for more fabric. Many of the fabric lines that are available in the U.S. are not in New Zealand due to copyright laws. This gave the ladies an opportunity to stock up on prints and colors they wouldn’t get elsewhere. Many were into purchasing Americana prints and loved the different hues of blue that were available. At the rate these ladies shopped, many would be purchasing a new piece of luggage to get it all back home.
Kitlan was impressed with the zeal that they had while shopping in the store. After having shopped at stores in California and the quilt show in Santa Clara, it was affirming to her that she had created a great business. This was the first international tour that had come through her store, and it made her proud to receive the response she did from these ladies. They really enjoy how Americans get into their holidays and kept Kitlan’s staff at the Endless Mountains Quiltworks store busy cutting yards of Halloween and fall fabrics, as well as various holiday prints.
After almost three hours of shopping, the ladies were ready to push off to the next destination, Amish country. They were going to be spending three days in Lancaster before heading to Washington, DC to tour our nation’s capital before the group would split. Some will tour New York City while others head to Houston for the International Quilt Market. All will eventually gather in Houston for the end portion of the Market when there is a show for the consumers of the quilting world.
Christiansen and Kitlan may run into each other as both will be ordering items to carry in their shops for the upcoming year. Houston is the last stopping point and the end of their three-week journey. These Kiwi ladies plan to return home and create a memory quilt from the yards of fabric they purchased to represent the amazing time they had while in the U.S.