Friday, May 27, 2016

Too much fun - continued.

In addition to the luxury accommodations, the meals here are gourmet-delicious and plentiful.  Here is tonight's dinner, waiting for us to help ourselves. I have to say that Woodland Ridge Retreat is like a boutique hotel.

Tuesday -- the first day of class -- was an intro to Free-form and we made units, which turned into small pieces -- or at least the beginnings of pieces -- some of which were finished by today (Friday).  People also worked on other pieces, as Carol is doing here.

Cindy is hard at work on the wall behind her. 

Elizabeth is putting up the piece she made today.

Wednesday, we had a challenge to make a small piece, starting with one specific shape - a rectangle with a strip in the middle. They were to work in limited colors: a dark, a medium, a light, and along the way, they could add one other color if they wanted to. There was quite a variety of results once people started cutting up the shape and playing. 

This is Elizabeth's challenge piece.

Here's Carol's.

And Patricia's - with a splash of whimsical orange.

Cindy stayed with the brights for this geometric one.

And so did Barb.

And here is Nancy's free-form abstract piece.

More pix tomorrow from this  talented group.  Time for me to put away the computer and get some sleep.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Having the most fun!

If you ever have a chance to take a class at Woodland Ridge Retreat in Downsville, WI -- RUN, do not walk, to come here.  It is paradise!  Drop-dead gorgeous location,wonderful meals, beautiful rooms, and Chris Daly, owner of this first-class quilt retreat venue, goes above and beyond to make you happy and comfortable.  

 Accomodations - de luxe!  No extra charge for the tree frog on the studio window this morning.

So far, two days of laughter, learning, and lots of play  --   studio photos to come tomorrow.  The studio is open 24 hours and you can sew to your heart's delight into the night if you have a mind to.  I was there until 11 tonight and will post more tomorrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

out the door again

Tomorrow morning, catching a plane to go teach for the week in beautiful Downsville, WI. at Woodland Ridge Retreat.   I have packed a huge stash of fabric because after teaching during the day, I plan to sew at night.  The studios are open 24 hours and it's not only a boon for the students, it's a perk for me!  I have been doing therapy sewing - some old fashioned string quilts with all the strips I have.   
And I have to make a challenge piece with the shweshwe fabric I brought home from Durban last August.  It needs to be 40 cm x 60 cm (approx.16"x24") and since the one I worked on last week turned out to be too big, I'm back to square one.  It's ok. I need to be challenged!

Leaving at the crack of dawn in the morning, so am going to put the last few items in the suitcase, zip it up, and leave it by the front door.  I expect to take lots of pictures of the locale and the class and will post. whatever I can.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A working vacation

This is part of my vacation.  Outer Banks of North Carolina - peaceful and elegant. 

The rest of it is much hilarity with 8 of my close college friends - along with eating, drinking, and a few pithy political discussions.  Happily, we are all on the same page -- and all equally distraught at what is going on in election-land.  And, although we are in the land of rest room bigotry, we were all greatly cheered to see this sign (and an accompanying one on the other door, in the little place where we stopped for lunch en route to our rental house.

Yes, I have brought my sewing machine with me and this afternoon, am taking a break while it is quiet and I can blog.  I have been working.  Before I left for this vacation, I was in my studio and came across something I started, probably in the early '90s. Had forgotten completely about it.  Got this far and couldn't figure out what I wanted to do with it -- so, put it away. Hmmm... I haven't the vaguest idea which traditional pattern this started out to be.  It's actually kind of cool - maybe it's finished.  What do you think?

In the meantime, while everybody has gone to Kitty Hawk, I am going back to my design wall.  Will keep you posted if anything exciting happens in the wilds of the Outer Banks.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

the complaints department

That's me.  Yes, I apologize to my loyal (and not-so-loyal) fans who have complained that I have not  posted since the day before I left to teach at the Virginia Quilt Consortium's bi-annual Celebration.  I have to admit, the countryside at the 4-H  place was lovely -- but the cell phone service and Internet were somewhat tempermental.  

Nonetheless, I had a wonderful time, with two fun groups of students who provided a lot of hilarity and some nice results.  It is not easy to teach Free-form in one day, and a couple of students who had never done this before were stymied early on by the thought of cuttiing without a ruler. BUT - they persevered as I coached them (as in, cutting without a ruler is the same as cutting with a ruler, except you don't use a ruler).   I worked with one of the students and here is what she had at the end of the day: it was a real accomplishment!

A couple of other pieces from that class...

These three tops were finished by the end of the day and I'm sure the others will be finished soon.  Amazing for a one-day workshop!

Backtracking a bit -- I flew into Greensboro and it was about a 2-½ hour drive to Wirtz, VA.  The lovely Lucille Amos, who lives in Greensboro, gave me a ride and it was a pleasant (and amazingly short) couple of hours.  Along the way, we spotted a farmstand selling just-picked strawberries and I had to stop.  Our strawberry season in NJ is in June and is so short-lived that it is impossible to find them.
So, I purchased a gallon of berries, about half of which I consumed while we were at the Quilt event.

Five days later, when I was leaving for home, they were a bit iffy, after having frozen in the back of the fridge and defrosted en route home.  Going through security with two quarts of strawberries was less of a challenge than I thought it would be. Happily, I was the only passenger at the Greensboro airport going through security and I simply announced to TSA person #1 that I had strawberries. She alerted TSA person #2 and it was not a problem.  When I got home on Monday night, I made 1-½ quarts of strawberry ice cream.  I don't even LIKE strawberry ice cream, but there you have it.

TODAY (Wednesday) It is 40-something degrees and has been raining for two days.  The heat on in May?  Yep.  And this morning, I made a pot of soup, some of which I am eating as we speak.

I did spend the day in my studio, experimenting (for a change) and deciding that the idea I had in mind was too much trouble for the result.  I abandoned it and started to work with the African and Indian fabrics I love so much.  Schlepped a ton of fabric home so I could work on it tonight and tomorrow because I am leaving again on Friday. Unpacked, did laundry, and will re-pack, all without even taking my suitcase upstairs.

It will be a week's vacation in the outer banks with my friends from college.  I can only hope that it will not be 40-something degrees.  SO - if you don't hear from me for another week, you will know why.
I expect we will be sitting around, walking if it is nice weather, eating, drinking, reading, and knitting.  I may bring some hand-work or even my sewing machine.  We will see.
See you anon.

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