Wednesday, April 27, 2016

a week in the studio

Well, most days.   The rest of the time I have been packing and getting ready to leave for the Virginia Consortium of Quilters Celebration...Thursday morning and will be home on Monday.  Should be fun!

I've been experimenting (as usual) and playing with some ideas; some have worked, others have not.  But that's how you learn - right?

In the meantime, I found some old photos of quilts I made back in 1997-99 (ha - can I say the last century??)  I no longer have this quilt - have no idea what happened to it.  I have one strip of blocks left..

I scanned in the other photos; it's interesting to see pieces I no longer have and can't find.  This baby quilt went to somebody, but I have no idea who.  Made from my grandmother's scraps.  I think I really didn't understand the value of them.  Wish i had this now.
I was always challenging myself to make ONE block in a few different combinations.  All scraps.  I wonder if I took these apart and still have the blocks.  Shall have to look.

Another baby quilt 1997.  Was I crazy??  Actually, by a couple of years later, I had ditched traditional patterns altogether.  Hmmm...second from right in middle row looks suspiciously like left bottom row above.

Finally, where is THIS one?  I love it! trompe l'oeil.  Same era - mid-to-late '90's.  That wonderful yellow fabric is from Usha - Handloom Batik.  And I see a piece of Kaffe's early stripes.  Oh, my.  Even then, I have to admit I like my color choices.

Enough memory lane stuff.  I opened a trunk and it turned out to be a Pandora's Box full of vintage antique blocks I had forgotten about.  Oh, no!

Time to sleep - have to be up super-early tomorrow to get to the airport.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

what is this?

I just ate the entire bowl. Have spent all week cooking for Passover (Friday night is the first seder) and not done yet. The brisket, stuffed breast of veal, and chicken soup are all done. This morning, the potato kugel.  Does this give you a hint?

 Was in the studio all afternoon till 7:pm and barely scratched the surface of my work.  Just got home, poured myself a drink, put my feet up, and am relaxing till I decide what I will REALLY eat for dinner.  This was just an appetizer.  I have to give credit to one of my must-read websites, Do potato peels count as carbs?
Dinner might be avocado toast, which seems to be the next big thing.  Lots of variations, none of which I have tried -- but I have ⅓ of an avocado in the fridge that needs to be enjoyed.

I have been so happy to be in my studio since I've returned from Florida.  Was there almost every day last week and again, today.  I have space and light there, and have been using my little Brother machine which is the clone of the one I bought for Miss Emma. I hated it at first but it has grown on me and it is just fine.  Brought it home today because Emma will be here Friday night and part of Sat, and I want to see her sew.  I also figure I can unload a bunch of fabrics on her, gift her with piles of fabrics, which I will let her select.  I also bought an extra ¼" foot, which I will send her home with.

Those of you who have seen pictures of my sewing room will be happy to know that I have contacted a couple of space organizing consultants to see who can come up with a plan for an organized studio I can live with.This will take some time.  In the interim, I have filled a large trash bag and am thinking layouts.  Unfortunately, this is a very small room.

Tomorrow, I may work at home.  Or not.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

past due blog post

What a week! 

Been working on posting my online teaching lessons, which will be available in May for those who signed up for the classes. Made some progress today uploading photos.

A big package of fabrics arrived today and I haven't even had time to open it. Boo,hiss.
Maybe next week.  I'll be home all day next Tuesday because I'm taking my car in for the airbag recall.

In February, I got a letter from Subaru saying that nobody should sit in the front passenger seat because they might die from an exploding airbag (implying, "in the event of an accident"). They also said they were out of replacement air bags (oh,swell) and would send me a letter when they got a new supply.  Did you get a letter from Subaru that my airbags were in?  Because I didn't.  So, faced with the prospect of sudden death from an airbag while we drive home on the lovely Route 95 for 3 days, I called the West Palm Beach Subaru dealer yesterday. 

Yes, they have airbags. Miracle of miracles, I got an appointment this morning, and the woman told me it would take most of the  morning.  So this morning, I showed up with my car (which, it must be noted, I have been driving for seven years without fearing death-by-airbag).  There was only one hitch.  The woman who told me I could have my car late this morning was lying or an idiot.  They have to remove the whole dashboard and it was going to take all day.  Oops.  Non-cancellable afternoon appointment for Phil and the next auto slot is Tuesday morning at 8. Hopefully, they will have a loaner for me on Tuesday, which they did not have today.

On the subject of dashboards, I received another missive from Subaru this week, alerting me about melting dashboards from heat and humidity, and extending my warranty for another year.  MELTING DASHBOARDS?? I had this vision.
So far, no melting. But I did read a comment from someone whose hand stuck to the middle of his steering wheel because of melting. The worst of it was that he wiped his hand off on his pants and couldn't get the plastic off his pants.  Now I know why in the Florida summers, people put those cardboard things on their windows.

Two weeks from now we will be heading home and I am feeling the panic of not finishing what I need to finish -- not to mention cleaning up this place we have been in for 4 months. It needs to be left spotless and I have a terrible cleaning person.  Unfortunately, I can't fire her.  Oh, well. Nothing's perfect.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

quickie update with a link

Thanks, Deborah Boschert, for leaving this link to a tutorial on how to link your Blogger profile to your email.  Maybe some people don't even realize they are not linked and don't know how to do this - so I'm passing it on.

a few detours

I've temporarily stopped sewing strips of colors that remind me of Cape Town because I need to shift gears for a few days.  Here are some of the colors I am using, along with others, of course. Color inspiration is everywhere if you keep your eyes open.

On another subject... If you happened to see my Facebook post or looked at, you have already seen this piece of fabric, which I found while going through a pile of STUFF, looking for something else. What you didn't see was the other side of the fabric.

This is the back of that piece. I printed the front as a demo using a torn paper resist on day 1 of a surface design class.

Since demo pieces are not meant to be masterpieces (although, believe it or not, sometimes they are),  I turned it over for the demo on day 2, using a glue resist.  Because the fabric already had a layer of paint on side 1, the yellow and blue and white paint I had used, came through the resist areas.  Accident. Serendipity. Whatever you want to call it -- it was unplanned and came out amazingly well. Just saying.

My final task of the day was to make some ugly blocks to take to class this week.  I didn't have any here in Florida, although I have plenty at home.  So I scrounged around for some not-so-pretty fabric and made a few. My stash of ugly fabric here in the apartment is limited, to say the least.  I brought only lovely fabric with me (a carload), but managed to eke out 3 nine-patches for demos.  I'm posting them here because next week, I may have some beauties in their place.  Or not.

Just set the clocks ahead and am finally tired enough to call it a night.  Presumably, more tomorrow or the next day.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

An Open Letter to my Blog Readers/Commenters

Dear Everybody Who Comments on My Blog,

I am so happy when you leave comments. They are always interesting and often extremely valuable and informative.  Those of you who are commenting on my Blog Hop post  are giving me ideas for new workshops, so thanks for that!

HOWEVER - I HATE when you leave no link to an email (or blog or FB or G+)and no way to reach you. I have follow-up comments and questions for some of you and would really like to be able to continue the conversation.  I like this to be a two-way street and am very frustrated that when I click on your name to respond, I get to a dead end. Many of you are on Blogger (even without a blog) but the "about me" doesn't have a contact link.

Please, please, please leave me some way to contact you. There is a contact me link on my sidebar, or you can go to my website and leave a comment, or you can send me a message on Facebook messenger.  

I love you all, but please, a conversation shouldn't be one-sided.  Thanks for commenting, and please keep doing it - but please, let me know how I can get back to you if I want to.

(who is now going back to her sewing machine to work on a quilt inspired by the colors of Cape Town).

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Blog Hop - Giveaway!!

Welcome to the last stop on the Fiber Art Connection Blog Hop!  My class is also the last (but not least!!) of the terrific lineup that starts on March 15th, when registration closes.  That's only five days from now! 

I hope you'll feel as though you are sitting right in a real classroom with me.  I've been busily getting ready, taking photos, and shooting videos that confirm my suspicion that I will never have a career in the film business. 

If you've been reading my blog, you probably have a pretty good idea of who I am.  But just for fun, let's pretend you're asking me the following questions and I'll answer them:-)).  At the end of the blog post, you'll have a chance to win my giveaway. (no skipping down to the end!!)

What draws you to the fiber arts?  Why do you work the way you do?

I love fiber arts because I can work with color, texture, and design without having to draw. My 7th grade teacher saw my picture of a tree, gave me a big C on it and told me I had no talent. End of drawing. My grandmother always had needles in her hand (sewing, embroidering, knitting, crocheting) and had a fabulous sense of color. I learned all from her! 

 I work the way I do because I can't be constrained by rules (and don't expect my students to be, either) and I love to play and experiment. There's a constant element of discovery and surprise when you work without patterns and trust your instincts.
It's work, but it is fun -- and if you can't have fun while you're working, what's the point?

Tell us about your studio! Where in the world is it?  Is it clean or messy? Hidden away or out in the open.

I actually have two studios.  One is my small sewing room/ office at home: a disaster area. Full Disclosure: It's not always this bad.  Had just gotten home from a teaching trip (see suitcase?) and was doing a massive cleanup. It always looks worse before it looks better. 
Truthfully, if I don't see it I forget I have it so most things have to be visible. 

See this? It is so zen and neat and peaceful. I once feng shui'd my sewing room and I could only sit and stare into space.  Couldn't create a thing till it was messed up again.

Below, the side that has already been neatened.

 The other studio is my dye/print studio, which also has a 10' design wall. Yes, I do some sewing there, but I work at home nights and weekends, so I have fabric in both places.

3.What's your favorite color and why? 

 Ha - I like to wear beige, black, brown, and purple.  Other than that - when it comes to fabric, I love lime green in little bits. It's such a wonderful pick-me-up. You didn't ask, but I don't like pink or baby blue. Why? Dunno.  I'm just not a pastel person.  

 What's your least favorite thing to do when you're working on a piece?

That's easy: the quilting.  I flunked every free-motion class I ever took and finally decided my work is not about the stitch.  Once I switched to straight lines, about seven years ago, I stopped letting my almost-finished pieces sit around for a year before I quilted them. 

If you could fly, where would you go? 

 I DO fly.  Seems that I'm always getting on a plane to go somewhere. I prefer to let someone else do the work; I'm not much good at flapping my arms.

 Tell us about the class you're teaching for The Fiber Art Connection.

What?? And spoil the surprise??  Actually, since everyone will be making an original piece of work, it will be a surprise.  We'll be working with rectangles (strips and squares are rectangles, after all) and doing lots of experimenting on the way to making a small piece by the time the class is over.  I promise fun!

What do you hope your students will learn from this?
That they can make wonderful, unique pieces if they throw away their patterns and rulers, experiment, and follow their instincts. 

 Where else can we find you on the Internet?
On my website,, on Facebook  and at Instagram

Ok, so now for the giveaway chance!   The eight of us have assembled a FABULOUS basket of goodies that some lucky person will win!

SO --  Answer my question and throw your name into the ring!  Good luck!!  


If you were taking this class (or any class) with me, what would you want to take away from it?  

Thursday, March 03, 2016

more on color

Goodness, I was going to write this a few days ago  -- but got sidetracked (a habit of mine).  My daughter Jessica is here visiting and right now she's basking in the Florida sunshine so I have a few minutes to work.

But instead of working, I'm here:-). 

Last night, was playing around with fabric combinations, which I rarely do. Normally, I don't think too much about it - but I was trying different combinations to see which one I liked best.  They all work.

Why do they work? which one do you think works best? and why??  Would love your input.

And don't forget to go to Liz Kettle's blog and leave a comment there (or to Desiree's or Candy's) so you can be in the drawing for this fabulous goody basket that the teachers at Fiber Art Connection have put together!  Just click on the link to the first three blogs, comment, and you're in!
·       3/1: Desiree Habicht
·       3/2: Candy Glendening
·       3/3: Liz Kettle
·       3/4: Roxane Lessa
·       3/7: Ruth Chandler
·       3/8: Cecile Whatman
·       3/9: Deborah Babin

·       3/10: Rayna Gillman

Back to playing with fabric strips...

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Fiber Art Connection Blog Hop Starts TODAY!!

Get set to do the Fiber Art Connection Blog Tour and register for a super-duper gift basket!
Visit our blogs (starting today, Tuesday, March 1) and enter to win.

CWe've all created an Artist Goody Basket filled with items that would be useful in each of
our classes.  We're giving it away to one lucky person! 

 Registration for Session One  CLOSES MARCH 15th.  There are 10 weeks, with a different teacher each week.   If you have questions, go to the FAQ and find out more:

ttYou can enter the drawing for the basket several ways:
11) register for Session One.
  2) leave a comment on the blog post, answering the blogger's question.    
  3) Share a link to this blog post on social media and then leave another comment here telling me you did so. 
  4) Sign up for the mailing list, link is at
You can enter at each stop along the blog tour. Comments for all the posts will be open till midnight your local time on March 14, the day before the course actually starts.  We'll combine all the entries and use to choose a winner.  Desiree will ship to the winner next day so if you registered for the class, you can start using your goodies!

First stop, today - go leave a comment here: DesireeHabicht 

Here’s what’s in the Basket: 6 spools of variegated thread from 6 different thread companies and a piece of hand dyed fabric in a tonal rainbow color palette, prequilted 9" block for coloring, 6 Inktense colored pencils, 2 quilt magazines, quilters flat tape measure, bag of six Valdani hand-dyed threads, gold eye chenille needles, hand dyed fabrics trim and lace, 10 fat quarters of assorted Hoffman Me & You fabrics,  4 sheets of Tyvek, 2 coloured light weight Lutradur and 75 grams of Tussah Silk Rop or Roving, artists transfer paper, 5 pieces of different colors of organza, 9 pieces of acid free tissue paper, silk organza, linen, embroidery thread, a package of beads and a spool of perks cotton thread
 Wishing you good luck!!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

thinking in color

I suppose you could call it therapy sewing redux. Sewing strips; an activity that requires a minimum of thinking.  Whatever you pick up next, you add. No cheating. All this color cheers me right up!
Once I sew enough strips, I decide what to do with them.  Once I know what to do with them, I cut them -- which leavesme with a bunch of smidgen-y offcuts. At first, I was throwing them away. Now I am sewing them to each other. 

So this morning, when I should have been doing something sensible, I sewed these bits together.The color combinations are random and fun.
That's all I have so far. No idea what I will do with them, or when I will do it. But they will go into my inventory.  And I suspect I will add more.  See what happens when you don't plan?

Yesterday morning, early, I hot-footed it over to Bed, Bath, & Beyond.  It's very nice at 9:30 am when they have just opened and have nothing to do.  About 5 different people waltzed over to me and asked what I needed to find.  Uh - paper towel holders?  Over there.
With the new backsplash up,ugly red and white flower print one that I picked up for a song, needed to be replaced with a stainless steel one.  Done!  And then I remembered that I needed a new garlic press; I was still using the terrible one my mother had.  

Oh, joy!  I bought one like this in stainless steel when I was in London in 2013.  My friend Marlene Cohen has one and I thought it was terrific. I have one in NJ. Now I can find them here -- and besides the steel one, they had this beauty!  Just perfect - how could I resist this wonderful color??
It is more of a garlic smasher - I think they call it a rocker.  You put it on top of the garlic clove and rock it back and forth and the garlic comes through those little holes (or not).
More color when I am more awake.  That would be tomorrow, I hope.  xo

where to start??

With the new sewing machine?  I finally got it set up and after having read the manual 40 times to figure out how to thread it, got it up and running.  For the price, it is a very nice little machine. 

There is a lot to like about it. 

- It has an automatic threader.
- You can set it to stop with the needle down.
- It has a nice little sewing table.
- The fast-bobbin winder feature is very nice (once you realize that there is such a feature)
- It has a reverse button, which I forget to use.
- The feed dogs work and I can get a nice straight seem if I choose to.

- The automatic threader is fiddly. It took me so long to figure out and then to actually make it work, that it would have been faster to thread the needle myself. Except that I can't see, even with my reading glasses on.
- The nice little sewing table is a little flimsy.
- There is nowhere to store your accessories when the sewing table is attached.
- It didn't come with a ¼" foot. I ordered two of them (don't ask me why two)  
- The default needle position is left (why?????) so you have to move the needle every time        you turn the machine on again because it has no memory.
- It is somewhat noisy.
- The lever to raise and lower the foot is on the right.  Every other machine on earth has the lever on the left.  Some kind of zipper foot lever is on the left where the foot lever should be and one of these days I am bound to break it because I keep trying to raise the foot with it.

But I am not complaining.  Just saying.  The best news is that it works and I have been sewing!

Now I am off to meet Bev Snow and Sandy Donabed at the Palm Beach Fine Craft Show.
To be continued...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

things are looking up!

So, I went to bed at 9:00 last night to make up for the 1 hour of sleep from the night before, and slept for 12 hours. I was actually alert today.

Did I mention that my vintage sewing machine, which I love dearly, ended up in the shop yesterday?  Threads keep getting tangled in the bobbin case; I spent an hour getting out the mess of thread, only to have it happen again when I started sewing.  Off I went to the fixit man, who has to take the thing apart and won't have it for me till next week. Bah.

I have two other machines down here; one of which has problems. The second one has been adequate, but today it became inadequate.  I think the feed dogs are crooked and the stitch length thing must be broken. Even for me, this is unacceptable.
Naturally, I am having a sewing machine emergency: I am frantically sewing samples for my online class -- or I should say I WAS sewing....  Faced with the prospect of disaster, I did what any sane person would do: I went onto Amazon Prime and ordered a sewing machine, which should arrive on Thursday. 

 Since I had already done tons of research when I was buying a machine for Miss Emma's 6th birthday, I didn't have to do it again.  I just ordered the same machine I had bought for her. Thank you, peeps, for all your advice.  Good enough for a six year old, good enough for her Nanny.

Emma loves the machine and has already sewn pillows for her dolls. Notice the fancy doll house; on the right, several doll-sized pillows.  My favorite is the neck pillow for her bird doll. 

Emma on her 2nd birthday 2012                                Happy Birthday, Emma 2016

Where does the time go??

Monday, February 22, 2016

It was one of those days...

First, I was up all night. Finally fell asleep for an hour, from 6:am-7:am and that was that.  I ran one errand this morning to pay for  my backsplash tile. It only took me a year to decide on it.  I hope it will be installed in the next week or two. 

Then came back to make plane reservations for my May travels.   I am teaching at the
Virginia Quilt Celebration early in May and then spending a week on the Outer Banks lounging around with my friends from college.  A REAL vacation.  Finally, teaching at the Woodland Ridge Retreat in Downsville, WI. from May 24-28.  This place is gorgeous! You have to click and take a look at the photos. I can't wait! 

Sat down to sew after lunch and my trusty new/old machine got so much thread caught behind the bobbin thingie that I had to take it in to be untangled.  Now I have to sew on one of two doddering Vikings for a week.  Oh, well.

Will continue tomorrow. My lack of sleep is catching up with me and I'm off to bed early tonight. Brain totally fuzzy.

Wide awake at 2:am

Blogger is not behaving tonight.  This is about the 10th time I have tried to post and it is finally letting me type without deleting my words.  So by this time, I have forgotten what I wanted to blog about.

Some time ago I was looking for upholstery fabrics because I need to recover a chair in my living room in NJ.  I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did see a lot of beautiful patterns that I found very inspiring.  Here are just a few...

I imagine I am not the only one who is so wired after having worked all day at something creative, that I can't get to sleep.  Hot cocoa - except that I don't have cocoa, so I had to melt a bittersweet piece or two of a Swiss chocolate bar I have been hoarding.  Seems to have done the trick! I am off to bed.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

8 terrific teachers, one online community!

I am really excited to be part of the online teaching community of 8 amazing fiber artists who will be teaching classes.  But this is not just classes: it is a true community you can join that enables you to take classes with all of us!  Our skills and approaches are all different; we complement each other, and you connect not only with us, but with each other.

The Fiber Art Connection is a new concept in online classes. Each of us will take charge for a week and you'll be taking classes with all of us! Our varied skills complement each other and you're bound to discover something new each week.  You can take them as they are released, or whenever you have time, on your own schedule. And you'll have access to the material forever so you can retake them or check something out that you may have forgotten.

We'll be sharing ideas, webinars, live calls, and videos which you'll also have access to from all of the classes. And a private Facebook page where we can all share with each other.
Furthermore, we're available on email for one-to-one conversations.
There's also a bonus week for everybody!  

Here's the lineup of teachers in order of their appearance, and their websites, so you can read about them and see their work.

  1. Desiree Habicht –
  2. Candy Glendening –
  3. Liz Kettle –
  4. Roxane Leesa –
  5. Ruth Chandler –
  6. Cecile Whatman -
  7. Deborah Babin – and - ahem -last but not least
  8. ME!! –
Stay tuned for our planned blog hop, some giveaways, and a lot of fun.  
Registration is open and the first class kicks off March 15th.  Follow this link to read more: to read what each of us is teaching.
Any questions for me, holler! 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

B is for...

Book review -- as promised

This is the most beautifully written book I have read in eons. It is a vivid picture of wartime London from 1939 on, of the battlefield, and the interpersonal relationships -- on both a deeply personal and cultural/historical level. Best of all, the characters are so strong and well developed that I really cared about them. Poignant, heartbreaking, and wryly funny at points. Couldn't put it down: read it in two nights. This is a can't miss book and I highly recommend it.

Full disclosure: this was a review copy and it will be released May 3, 2016. I have read a lot of pre-release review copies -- many of them, uncorrected galleys, over the last couple of years. Some were so badly written or inane that I couldn't even finish them. Others were quite good. But this is by far, the most outstanding on every level.

On a more banal note - I spent the morning paying bills and the afternoon trying to book a flight. Don't ask! Right now, I have it on hold for three days and am breathing a sigh of relief. I also cleaned off my kitchen island, except for the cutting mat.

Tomorrow, I expect to actually SEW. How exciting! 

Monday, February 01, 2016

Never say "never!"

Ok, I take it back. I said I would never teach online, but there are so many people who have emailed me to ask whether I gave online classes that I began to think about it. And then I stopped thinking about it --until The Fiber Art Connection  approached me with their teaching model.  

I found it so exciting that I said "yes."  It's not cookie-cutter (if you know me, you understand I don't follow rules very happily - LOL).  There are eight different fiber artists, all teaching something different -- each of us in our own style.  So you get to take eight classes for ten weeks, and along the way, discoveries, interactive sessions, community, connections, and personal interactions.  It'll be the closest thing to being in the classroom and we are all very pumped about this different way of teaching! 

 Once you enroll, you'll be notified when each teacher's class begins and the classrooms are open  to you indefinitely. If you don't have time just then, you can take the classes when it's convenient -- and go back as many times as you want to.  All the class materials - handouts, recordings, videos -- stay there so you can always access them.  

So...I've been sewing, making videos, taking pictures, and generally making as much of an embarrassing mess here in the Fla apt as I do at home. I was going to do a video tour, but decided to take pictures instead.

The kitchen island

dining room floor
 dining room table (yes, this is another sewing machine)
 living room chair
 living room floor

And we haven't gotten to the guest room yet!  But that's for another day.  Now I am going to sit down and read more of the most wonderful book I have read in eons.  More about that another day, too. bb