On the Road: Lyons, Colorado

By the time I arrived in Denver, Colorado, I had already been traveling for fifteen days. I’d taught for eight of those days and had forty students with forty projects. I’d slept in five different beds. It was getting hard to remember where I was when I awoke in the morning. Lying there with my eyes not yet open, I would have to concentrate pretty hard to feel confident I knew in what hotel in which town in what particular country my body currently was.

Two weeks before, I had left my home in Maine for Schulenberg, Texas. From there, I lost a day crossing the International Date Line on my way to Melbourne, Australia. After class was done there, I spent a few days sightseeing. Then I hopped the jet for a fifteen hour flight (regaining my lost day) to Los Angeles for my connection on to Denver.

Thankfully, my buddy Darlene Determan was there to greet me. We spent the next day and a half in her hometown getting my batteries recharged, soaking up some of Colorado’s famous sunshine, before the lecture on Saturday then class Sunday and Monday.

Trunk Show/Slide Show

Fielding questions during my trunk show for the Colorado Quilting Council.

You’d think after a couple decades of giving lectures about my work, it’d be pretty much the same each time. Actually it can vary quite a bit. Sometimes a group has time restraints, so I adapt the length. About once a year I add a quilt to the slide show, as I did this year with “Crocodylus Smylus,” so other quilts may need to be dropped.

Another important variable is the group dynamic. Rather than a lecturer-student type of arrangement, my speaking is more akin to a performer-audience relationship. And as any actor knows, there’s a symbiosis between a performer and the audience.

Sometimes—infrequently, thankfully—for whatever reason, the audience is not responsive. Maybe I’m off my game and the audience senses that. Or maybe there’s some dynamic I’m not aware of in the audience that’s keeping them so quiet I expect crickets to be heard. On those occasions, it takes a lot of energy on my part just to get through my prepared remarks. At those times, I can almost feel the energy being sucked out of my body.

Other times, however, when my audience is responsive, I can sense it immediately. People are relaxed in their chairs. They laugh, they ooh and aah. They are actually giving me energy which in turn I use to be a better speaker. There’s a feedback loop that gets going, with energy flowing back and forth between me and the audience.

That was the case this time when I spoke for the Colorado Quilting Council at their venue in Longmont, north of Denver. You don’t know how grateful I am when that happens. It’s like they’re giving me a gift.

Everything was helped along by the ladies of the guild, including my contact Nancy VerWest, who got out quilt racks and hung quilts for display. Also, my buddy Darlene and her husband, Len Edgerly handled selling books and patterns and prints. All I really needed to do besides the lecture was smile, answer a few questions, and sign books. I felt like I had a team. What a treat it was.

Len has written his own blog post of the lecture. His post has multimedia elements as well. You can listen to an audio of the talk plus Q&A’s he recorded if you care to. He also filmed a short portion of the class I taught a couple days later using his new 360 degree video camera. Len’s a technology kind of guy with a weekly podcast called The Kindle Chronicles.


Compared to the cities of Denver and Boulder, Lyons where the class was held is small and quaint. Despite that I was pleasantly surprised to find it contained such an amazing quilt shop in which to hold the class. Lyons Quilting has everything a quilter could dream of. I didn’t get to look around as much as I would have liked because of my responsibilities, but I managed to find some goodies to bring home.


Lyons Quilting, Lyons, CO

I had a great group of fourteen students. They progressed really well. (See the slideshow below for proof.) As I have done recently with my classes, I sent them links to blog posts to read before coming to class. The ones that said they read the blog, especially the post on value, felt they were better prepared for the class.

Len came back on the second afternoon and took some photos. So the classroom photos are his (Thanks, Len!) it was nice to have a photographer around to shoot all those photos I never have time to take.

The space at Lyons Quilting allowed the students to work either on a tabletop or on a pinning wall.
I tend to be a hands-on teacher. Sometimes telling just isn’t enough and I don’t hesitate to show what I mean.
Placing a piece of fabric just so.
Having some of my quilts, such as “Golden Temple of the Good Girls,” on hand is helpful in showing exactly how something is done.
Here’s a little trick to help see the values of a piece better. Take a picture with your smartphone, tablet, or digital camera and look at the image small. It blends colors together so you can see how your values are working. 

Then all of a sudden the class was packing up. People went their own ways and at last I was headed home. Looking back at the three weeks and it seemed forever since I was in Texas, but it all went by so quick, too.

Student Work

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The afternoon of my lecture, I went with Darlene and Len to Boulder, where we ate at Leaf Restaurant. We also returned the next evening after class to hit the famous Pearl Street pedestrian walkway in downtown Boulder with galleries and restaurants and such.

Boulder is near where I was staying. It was good place to visit when I had some free time, getting in a trip on each of my three days. It was also an easy hike to view the Flatirons, an interesting geological site. The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse was also a favorite stop for delicious food and, of course, tea. They must have hundreds of types to choose from, and the wait staff are well prepared to help you choose. It’s architecture is amazing. Built by hand in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, as a gift for its sister city, Boulder, as a symbol of friendship and cultural exploration.

Besides Darlene, Len, and a friend of theirs, my other traveling companion (as you will see in the photos) continued to be my Australian souvenir, Kiiora the stuffed toy budgie. Silly yes, but Darlene got such a kick out of her. You may have seen Kiiora in the previous blog covering my time in Australia.

I’m home now, getting caught up with all the living beings I missed the last few weeks: my parents, my sis, my son who recently turned 19 (whoo hoo!), our two pups, one cat, Kiiora the real budgie, and my collaborator husband who has kept everything going in my absence, including this blog. I couldn’t do it without you, my dear.

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6 thoughts on “On the Road: Lyons, Colorado

  1. Thank you for your kind words about Lyons Quilting. It was a treat to have you hear and it was amazing to see the progress of your students!


  2. I was at your lecture for the CQC meeting. Great inspiration. Thank you for sharing the pictures from the workshop. Amazing work that was started. Can’t wait to see some of those finished and shared at Show and Tell.


  3. great as ever! any chances that you would travel up north? for hands on classes? traverse city ,mich.49686 area. looking forward to your new post updates on your travels.

    On Sat, Apr 30, 2016 at 9:18 AM, Susan Carlson Quilts wrote:

    > Susan posted: “By the time I arrived in Denver, Colorado, I had already > been traveling for fifteen days. I’d taught for eight of those days and had > forty students with forty projects. I’d slept in five different beds. It > was getting hard to remember where I was when I a” >


  4. I just love your blog! I love that you share your authentic insight and feelings and show lots of pictures of your students and their work. It helps me get out of “my head” and more in my heart. Taking one of your classes is on my bucket list!!!


  5. Hi Susan I enjoy your blog. I took your class with the South Bay Quilt guild about 2 years ago. Made the spiral in green background with red spiral. I really love it and it hangs often in my living room over the dark maple mantle. A perfect combination. The nice thing about living in Southern California is when you have an earthquake the quilt doesn’t break!


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