Friday, July 30, 2010

With Sad Heart....

It is with deep regret that I feel compelled to cancel my visits to Canada in 2012

I am not sure if you are aware of the recent troubles with bringing quilts for show across US/Canadian borders. This past spring, a Canadian designer was forced to deface her quilts by writing "SAMPLE" across the front of all her quilts on the way to quilt market. The quilt world is in upheaval. If I were that quilter, I would have turned around and gone home rather than deface my quilts. Please see here: http://daphnegreig.blogspot.com/2010/05/quilt-market-report.html

The last time I traveled to Canada, I had a tough time getting 2 bags of quilts back OUT of the country at the airport on my way back to the US.

My heart is sick, I was really looking forward to these trips, but at this time, I can't risk the hassles that have been coming from border customs.

The trunk show is too valuable to me to ship it ahead of time and most of the time I don't have the convenience of enough time between guild dates to have it out of my hands...I go from one to the other without enough time to ship in between. Not to mention that shipping 100lbs of quilts would be of great cost to the guilds involved.

I regret that I am leaving Canadian guilds with big holes in their 2012 calendars. I hope that my letting you know NOW instead of later will enable you to find someone to fill these spots. And I hope in the future, if things ease up on quilters, that I'll be able to visit you again!

I've sent email to all the guild chairs involved, but I wanted any guild members who hear of my cancellation to know WHY...and to understand from my end too.

In Stitches---

PS...I also want it understood that it was a US TSA Agent who enforced the defacing of the quilts in Daphne's case. My previous trouble returning from Winnepeg last year was with Canadian officials at the airport.


  1. It's a very understandable course of action on your part. But, I am sure regrettable for all parties involved.

  2. That is such a tough call to make. I used to travel about 80% of my time for work and unfortunately so many of Canada's border agents were so out of step with that beautiful country (this from someone who had the lining removed from suitcase....)

  3. That is really unfortunate. I wonder if you could photograph your quilts and put the photos in a powerpoint presentation. Then, you could still show your quilts and travel. It wouldn't be as great as the real quilt, but it might be a workable substitute. You could do close up photos of your quilting and everything... Just a thought!

  4. So much for being good neighbors! That's too bad -- what a loss for your friends in Canada.

  5. Oh Bonnie, this makes me so sad to think such joy can be taken from us by rules and laws and not so smart custom agents. We in North Louisiana are so excited that you are on your 2013 teaching schedule.

  6. Bonnie, I was not aware of this. It is totally understandable why you decided to cancel the 2010 trip. It just wouldn't be worth the trouble. If I were the woman who had to put "Sample" on her quilts, I would NOT have done it....turning around and not attending would have been less painful, I'd think.

    Take care.

    Hugs, Karen

  7. I am so upset by this news! I am a member of the London Friendship Quilters' Guild --one of the guilds that you were to visit in Canada. I was sooooo excited that you were coming to visit our guild. Don't totally give up on us please! Maybe we can find you a venue in a border city near here, such as Port Huron, Michigan. We could rent a bus and come there to see you so you don't have to ship your quilts over the border. I will contact our guild president with this idea. I still want to meet you and see your quilts!!! Maybe you could still consider coming to do the workshops anyway!!! Please don't totally count us out!

  8. Bonnie I am Canadian ,its such a shame that it has come to this .A few bad guys in this world spoil it for the rest of us .I understand your position and would do exactly the same thing .As far as the lady who had to deface her quilts ,not on your life would I do that .I guess we have to remember both USA and Canada are doing this to protect us .

  9. Another crass example of Homeland Security and its paranoia on both sides of the 49th.

  10. Anonymous11:59 AM EDT

    Something fishy here in the quilt SAMPLE story. She could mail her quilts but not take them because she might sell them? Why could she not sell them if they were mailed?

    She could..... are all businesses subjected to these ways? Why would one even want to do business across the boarder?

  11. I think the actions of the guy responsible for her having to write sample should be questioned, esp if her friend didn't have to do it. Let's hope she got his name.
    Also, I think the quilters in Canada should still have a chance for a visit from you. If a power-point program is all you can give them (I know it's not a favorite), they should be able to decide if they still want you to come.

  12. Wow, I'm with Cozy quilter on this....don't completely cancel yet in case something can be worked out! I like the idea of the power point presentation...it's not as nice as the real quilts, but I'm also a member of the LFQG and was really looking forward to your coming...I'd gladly do the power point presentation and still have you come and teach. We could all bring quilts we've made from your patterns for show and tell!! Hope that something can be worked out.

    Jacqui in Canada

  13. Bonnie!! Please give us a chance to find a solution, don't give up on us!

    London Friendship Quilters Guild

  14. Unfortunately it's how it is. I worked in the garment industry in Canada and our samples would come in with cuts in the back of shirts, hand bags sliced through the bottom, SAMPLE stamped across the back of a shirt. It's because the product comes into the country "duty and tax free" and this ensures that it isn't resold. It's a crap shoot traveling with either border when you have commercial goods. I once took letters for my US customers across the border so I could mail them from the US (quicker service) and I had to pay Commercial Goods at the US border. It's just how it is.

  15. Since you have so many fans in Canada...do the Powerpoint presentation and then a show and tell with the group's quilts made from your patterns!
    That is such a shame. I would not have defaced my quilts and mine are just family quilts!
    XOXOXO Subee
    P.S. my word verification is "bringi" very appropriate...having them "bringi" their quilts!

  16. This is a sad situation on the part of both countries. Like you, I would not risk any of my quilts and I am so sorry you will not be able to visit Canada. I have had similar bad experiences crossing the border from both customs...maybe they could just get their acts together so we can continue to enjoy friendly relationships.

  17. It is how it is. My product is knowledge- what I have in my brain. (I'm a trainer). You wouldn’t believe what I have to go through to do face to face training. They would love to stamp SAMPLE on my forehead. They've accused me of stealing jobs from Canadians, when I'm trying to build their skills up so they can keep their jobs. Now I do it all via the web, and never go across the border.

  18. At the border where I cross, you aren't allowed to just turn around with your merchandise to take it back home again. They actually confiscate it until you comply with what they want. If you never comply, you never get your items back.

  19. I had no idea it was so hard to travel internationally when it was our northern neighbors!

    I hope you can find some sort of compromise.

    Best Wishes!
    Cindy B.

  20. Wow, what a tragedy for Daphne. And how sad for you. This is just amazing.

  21. Might they just let you temporarily baste "sample applique letters across? That is SO sad. I'm sorry for Canada women who love you to have to miss out! Might you contact whoever administration in this matter would be and then carry a signed letter to let them KNOW what the real way to handle quilts is?

    Lucy (in IN)

  22. I read your post, all your comments and Daphne's post as well. It appears that some readers think it's the Canadian customs that are making a big stink where if people would carefully read the blog post, they would see that it was an American custom agent who gave Daphne the gears. I know a lot of people who bring their sewing machines across with them to go to retreats in Michigan and they usually get a form that has the machine's serial numbers listed on it at customs and bring the original bill of sale before they cross so they don't have any hassle on the way back. I wonder if there is some kind of form you could get so your quilts are itemized officially so there isn't any problem when crossing the border. I wouldn't cancel your visit here until you investigate this with the US customs. You'd hate to lose the market potential of this country because you weren't properly prepared to cross the border with goods that are not for sale. I know that I've called the US customs concerning some bunk beds that I was giving to my niece in Michigan and there were no problems at all bringing them across. There has got to be a form of some nature for stuff like this. It might be a lot of work but in the long run it might be worth it for future trips. I'd hate to see a lot of dissapointed quilters here in Canada. I hope to see you in Canada one day.

  23. With the expense and long range planning involved, it sounds to me like it would be worthwhile to consult a lawyer who specializes in border/import issues.

    Many border agents seem to fly by the seat of their pants, when they meet a situation they're unprepared for. You being prepared with the right forms can mitigate that.

  24. We've traveled to Canada on several occasions, and it's always the US agents that are not nice (and that's putting it kindly). I'm always shocked and saddened to see that we as Americans are treated so poorly by our own agents. I certainly hope they treat our Canadian friends better when they come to the US.

  25. Oh, dear, I completely understand. I once had to undress my infant son completely- diaper included- by the TSA.

    So different from my childhood spent crossing freely between Canada and the US- they would just wish us a good tip, or did you have a nice trip?

  26. That is the most horrid story I have ever heard! I totally feel for Daphane; I can only imagine the pain she suffered when having to deface her own quilts. It is people, like this border crossing agent, that make this world so sick and this person sure knows how to pull out someones heart without using their own hands! I do hope you come across the border, Bonnie, even if you leave your quilts at home. Even though seeing your work would be awesome, meeting you, Bonnie Hunter the person, would be worth the wait :)

    Shirley in Canada

  27. I am always surprised how the actions of a few ruin life for the masses.
    Imagine my fear when trying to get my mother's ashes out of Canada then returning them the next year for a
    military honors service that she earned while serving in WWII.

    Why are the good people punished for the actions of the terrorists?

    I think you made the right choice and hope you get an understanding response from the Canadian quilts.

    Happy sewing

  28. Bonnie, I'm so sad about this! I'm Canadian and I've been lobbying my guild to have you visit us ... It is unbelievable what the US border official made Daphne do! I'm heartbroken when I look at the pictures of her quilts ... Border officials have a huge amount of power, and and wield it quite randomly. I've had a couple bad experiences with US officials, none with Canadian officials but maybe that is because I'm coming home ... These are the crazy things that happen when paranoia about terrorism and economic troubles takes over ...

  29. I am with one of your prior Commenters.
    Why not make a beautiful power point presentation and bring one or two small Quilts as samples. I am sure that most Guild members would love to meet you the maker more than your quilts.

  30. I feel this post and the one about the US Customs people need forwarding to both countries and probably the UK. This is happening more and more. when I send quilts to US shows I know I will have to pay taxes to the UK government to get them back. Always assuming the US customs haven't already ruined them. I know of fabric companies who have had the corners cut off their sample quilts without warning or apology. It's scary how much power these people have and how they are applying it to stifle our industry.

  31. Bonnie I am a Canadian and this brought up two feelings in me. First I was boiling mad that anyone would make a quilter deface her quilts like that. These border guards just have to show how much power they have and this is just scary. Our two countries have always been such good friends what is happening in our world these days. I also feel very sad to see this happening between our two countries when we can't even exchange our goodwill in our arts anymore without paying. Bonnie I to hope you won't give up on coming to Canada. Sandra


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