You may have noticed new signage in the window at 304 N. Euclid, above, announcing that eyewear chain Warby Parker is set to open in the CWE, which will be the company’s first St. Louis location. Warby Parker, which advertises $95 frames, has locations all over the U. S. and Canada. It will be the 6th eyewear company located within just about as many square blocks in the neighborhood, providing the community with a broad selection of choices. Warby Parker will join Eye Roc at 28 Maryland Plaza, The Eye Bar at the corner of Euclid and McPherson Avenues, Clarkson Eyecare at 7 N. Euclid, BJC Vision Center at CAM, 4921 Parkview, and Crown Vision Center at 4145 Lindell Blvd.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, email@example.com. Since K2 lives in the neighborhood, she’s happy to schedule appointments on Sundays too.
Last weekend’s inaugural BookFest St. Louis was such a success that talk of 2018’s event began before the last line of poetry was uttered at the closing event—the 100th anniversary celebration of T. S. Eliot’s Prufrock & Other Observations held at Dressel’s. Throughout the day book lovers brushed aside the unusually hot late-September weather and dashed from venue-to-venue enjoying as many events as they could manage from the jam-packed schedule.
There were approximately 40 prominent authors in town for BookFest, each participating in a reading or a panel discussion on topics as varied as poetry, weird, literary and science fiction. Miss Kopp’s High Tea with Amy Stewart (author of the best-selling Kopp Sisters mystery series) was held at Mary Ann’s Tearoom, and at 6 p.m. Saturday at least 100 people gathered on the sidewalk at Left Bank Books for the dedication of a bronze sculpture of William S. Burroughs, the installation of which completed the Central West End Association’s Writer’s Corner project (see photo above).
Friday night’s keynote event, “An Evening with Sherman Alexie,” was held at The Sheldon, the only BookFest venue not in the immediate neighborhood. I asked Cory Lovell, Left Bank Books’ event coordinator to describe the hundreds of Alexie fans in the audience:
“Very diverse. In age, race, socio-economic class, and ideology. There were radical activist artists who I know have been active in St. Louis since the 60’s, and junior high students who have taken a shine to their required reading project (Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian). There were so many kinds of folks and I think they all were there because they appreciate Sherman’s honesty. He explains tragic elements of humanity in a way that’ll make you crack a smile. Its rare. So people take notice.”
And notice they did—except for moments of raucous laughter that interrupted Alexie’s 1 hour & 45 minute performance, the audience was so engaged, you could have heard a pin drop.
Others who threw their hearts and souls into the months-long planning were LBB’s Cory Lovell (mentioned above), Lauren Wiser, and a long list of other LBB staffers, CWENorthCID‘s Elisa Essner and Maggie McCarthy, and Enchanting Embellishment’s Ken Fowler.
Literary Fiction Panel II was held at the newly opened event venue The McPherson, 4715 McPherson. Panelists Whitney Terrell, left, author of The Good Lieutenant (named best novel of the Bush war years by The Guardian),Shanthi Sekaran, author of the acclaimed Lucky Boy, and right, debut novelist Gabriel Tallent, whose My Absolute Darling became an instant hit, discussed “crafting searing and relevant fiction that helps us empathize with parts of the American experience otherwise foreign to many of us…”
Charlie Jane Anders, left, author of Nebula-Award winning All the Birds in the Sky, and MIT Fellow and io9 founder Annalee Newitz , author of Autonomous shown leaving the William Burroughs event. The authors participated in the Science Fiction Panel which also took place at The McPherson.
Sculptor Vlad Zhitomirsky, creator of the William Burroughs statue, is photographed with Central West End Association board members, from left, Anna Cardot and Kate Walter, and CWEA Director Jess Batchelor.
The video shows sculptor Zhitomirsky unveiling the Burroughs statue. Burroughs joins T. S. Eliot, Kate Chopin, and Tennessee Williams on Writer’s Corner, each of whom resided in the CWE. Local author Carol Shepley, who spoke about Burroughs’ connection to the neighborhood and to Left Bank Books can be spotted in the video, as well as Erin Quick of the St. Louis Poetry Center.
At the dedication ceremony the Chanco Cruz Duo played jazz, while Brett Underwood, right, performed a reading of rare and out-of-print Burroughs poetry.
The BookFest Festival Zone (on McPherson east of Euclid) was open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday with live music, demonstrations, book sellers (The Novel Neighbor, Eagle Heights Press, St. Louis Small Press), local artisans, and not-for-profits (Missouri Humanities Council, St. Louis Public Library, We Stories, St. Louis Poetry Center).
A proud participant at the poetry challenge board in the Festival Zone is photographed above.
It was wonderful to see families participating in BookFest events or just out enjoying the neighborhood scene. On Saturday morning there was a Children’s StoryTime event, as well as a Middle Readers Meet & Greet at Schlafly Library. A Young Adult Panel at The McPherson brought together Sherman Alexie (AnAbsolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian), Nina LaCour (We Are Okay), and St. Louisan Zac Brewer (The Blood Between Us and Madness).
BookFest St. Louis was supported by a long list of generous sponsors including Left Bank Books Foundation, St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis Public Library, The Chase Park Plaza, St. Louis Poetry Center, The Green Goose, Central Print and Lofts@Euclid.
Thanks to everyone who made BookFest St. Louis happen, including 100 generous volunteers. It was a stellar debut and garnered the positive attention the neighborhood—and all St. Louis—needed.