The Gentleman Quilter opens in CWE

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

CWEnder K2 (Kristine) Kelley, above, opened The Gentleman Quilter at 4814 Washington Avenue in mid-August. The shop provides finishing services for quilters and custom-made quilts for any occasion.

K2, who retired last year after 26 years at Boeing, earned her nickname from her boss who kept mixing Kristen’s name up with Christina, another woman in the same department. To make it easier on himself, he started calling her K2. The nickname stuck.

The Gentleman Quilter is another unusual name, this one for a business traditionally dominated by women. The business website defines the term as a well-to-do man who runs a quilting service for pleasure. K2 decided that the name, which was suggested by her sister-in-law, would set her new business apart from others. Like her nickname, it’s also hard to forget.

Last year, while visiting a quilt shop on a trip to Colorado with her husband John, K2 saw a long-arm quilting machine which caused her to imagine that she could capitalize on a passion for quilting by opening her own business now that she was retired. At first she planned on operating the business in her dining room, but changed her plans when she found a studio space within walking distance of her CWE condo. Everything fell into place very quickly and, as K2 said, “When a door opens, you should walk through it.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

The photo above shows the shop’s twelve-foot long Gamill Statler 30″ long-arm quilter, an impressive looking machine made in Missouri by an 80-year-old inventor from West Plains. He saw a long-arm quilter at a state fair and realized he could make it better by adding a computer.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

The screen on Gamill’s computerized quilter shows one of the patterns that’s ready to be stitched onto the quilt that has been placed on the bed of the machine. Pattern design possibilities are endless. Examples of some of the different types available are shown on a sample quilt below.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

K2, who grew up in O’Fallon, IL,  learned to sew when she was 8-years-old. She traces her love of sewing to her great-grandmother, who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in the 1880s. Her great-grandmother was a quilter at a time when quilting was a necessity, not a hobby. K2’s late mother, Evelyn Riebold (photo above left), loved sewing, tailoring and embroidery. Her 1948 Elna machine, right, which K2 used until recently, is prominently displayed in the shop. Her mother became a “strip quilter” in the 1990s when the rotary cutter was invented.  That made the tedious task of cutting out squares of fabric with scissors unnecessary and a quilt top could be made in a day.

As K2 looked around her studio during the interview, she said she wished her mother could see The Gentleman Quilter, she would be so amazed and proud to see how her daughter has turned a skill that was passed on into a business.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

Most of The Gentleman Quilter’s business, which to K2’s surprise took off almost immediately, has come by word of mouth. Her first customer was a referral who brought in a Mariner’s quilt to be finished. Amazingly, this intricate pattern was the 1st quilt she had ever made.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

On a design wall in the studio, K2 is in the process of laying out “a road less traveled” quilt patterned after one she made for a girlfriend as a thank you after a 2-week trip touring New Zealand in a camper van years ago. The quilt is being recreated with remnants of 12 different Australian prints used in the original quilt.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

One of K2’s sons-in-law is a big Marvel comic book fan, which inspired her to start making quilts featuring The Hulk, Captain America, Spider Man, Thor, and Iron Man, shown above and below. Quilts are the size of a throw,  50″ by 55,” and are backed with fabric depicting vintage comic book covers, see below, $145. To order or for more information visit the website.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End    Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

photo above courtesy of The Gentleman Quilter

The cost of finishing a quilt depends on how much work needs to be done. For example, queen-size quilts including batting, quilting, and finishing edges range from $200 t0 $275. Turnaround time is usually a couple of weeks.

For information on custom-made quilts—baby quilts range from $85 to $100 (see boy and girl owl quilts above as examples)—to wedding or “any occasion” quilts, contact K2 for pricing information. The shop stocks some fabrics, or customers can provide their own.

The Gentleman Quilter, 4814 Washington Avenue, Suite 120, (314) 478-9777. Hours are 10 t0 5 Monday through Saturday, though please call or set up an appointment via the website or via email first, thegentlemanquilter@gmail.com. Since K2 lives in the neighborhood, she’s happy to schedule appointments on Sundays too.

A visit with Sidewalk Astronomer Joel Allen

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Events, Sightings For Children Services

When CWEnder Joel Allen, aka the Sidewalk Astronomer, invited me to look at Saturn through his telescope last week, I couldn’t imagine a more constructive way to take a break from the incessant bad news we’ve been experiencing lately and find some peace.

I first learned about Allen through his occasional posts on NextDoor CWE inviting anyone interested to stop by The McPherson Lot (at Walton Row) when he sets up his SkyQuest Intelliscope, above.

Turns out the heavens aren’t exactly peaceful either. We city dwellers don’t see much in the night sky but, upon closer inspection and with Allen as a guide, there’s a whole lot more to explore than can be seen with the naked eye.

“We just missed the International Space Station by 2 minutes,” Allen said as he glanced at the western sky and checked an amazing app on his phone called Sky Safari (available for iOS and Android), which enables you to track the action above from wherever you are.

Next he pointed to Arcturus, the 4th brightest star, and explained that it played a role in the opening of the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. Coincidentally, it was at the time of the invention of the first solar cell and the light from the star was zeroed in on the cell which in turn lit up the Fair. For more fascinating information, read this: The Curious and Confounding Story of how Arcturus electrified Chicago.

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In the photograph above, Allen is calibrating his telescope so we could view Saturn, which is apparently in “full expression” right now.

Allen fell in love with Saturn at age 4 when his grandparents introduced him to astronomy. His parents fostered his interest by giving him a basic telescope. His love of the night sky eventually inspired him to become a geologist. When his grandparents died, they left him a little money he used to purchase the telescope you see in the photo. That telescope completes the circle as Allen uses it to teach others to love astronomy as well.

Allen took a circuitous route to get to St. Louis where he is teaching science at The Chesterfield Day School. Along the way he taught science in high school and at Denver’s Arapahoe Community College, and later opened a school in Kunshan, China, a suburb of Shanghai. There he taught biology, physics and astronomy.

In 2007 Allen worked as an astronomer with the National Park Service’s Night Sky Team in Bryce Canyon and the Arches in Utah, where the stars are endless. The team also conducted astronomy classes in the Grand Canyon.

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Once the telescope was set up last Monday, Allen invited passersby to take a look. The reaction was not surprising. Some people were hesitant when a stranger—even a friendly-looking one like Allen—asked if they wanted to look thru a telescope, and others wondered if it cost anything. Most people, however, responded the way I did and were eager to take a look. When each person viewed Saturn, the reaction was always a “wow.” We learned we were looking at the backside of Saturn which is visible only 2 months of the year. We could also see two moons outside the planet’s rings.

Those who stopped by included CWEnders Jared and Stacey Plank, proprietors of The Eye Bar, and a chef from The Tavern who said he and his wife had just purchased their first telescope.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Events, Sightings For Children Services    A visitor with a British accent, above, said she had just arrived in town for business and was staying in the neighborhood. She said that the neighborhood was so lovely, and an invitation to look at Saturn made her visit an even better experience.

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After everyone walked away Allen suggested he train the telescope on the moon, see above. He said it’s much better to view when it isn’t full, as it was that evening, as then you can see the peaks and valleys of the moonscape on the rim. It was so, so beautiful, absolutely stunning. The peaks looked like they had wisps of whipped cream on top.Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Events, Sightings For Children Services

Photo above from Allen’s Facebook page

As Allen dismantled his telescope that evening, we brainstormed about how to get more people out to experience what I was so fortunate to see. One idea Allen is exploring is pairing a night sky event with a wine tasting at The Vino Gallery (across the street from The McPherson Lot).  In the meantime, check out the Sidewalk Astronomer’s Facebook page, Starwalking with Annie Jump Cannon. or NextDoor Central West End for notices about viewings. These will always be last minute due to weather conditions. For more info, contact Joel Allen via email: joelglennallen@gmail.com.

Don’t miss the opportunity to take a tour of the night sky with the Sidewalk Astronomer. I can’t explain exactly why, whether it was learning something completely new, or getting outside and leaving the news behind, or both, but the experience was really exhilarating.

P.S. – The term Sidewalk Astronomy began with John Dopson, a Buddhist monk who lived in San Francisco. Dopson made telescopes he would then give away to schools. Not only that, he gave away his plans too. The mount on Joel Allen’s telescope is called a Dopsonian mount. And Allen has adopted Dopson’s moniker as his own.