Tuesday, November 29, 2011

playing catch-up

Almost the end of November - a long, delicious weekend behind me and more fun ahead of me. How nice!
Trekked to Brooklyn on Th-day, cranberry-apple pie and butternut squash soup in hand.  Food was excellent and the company could not have been better. Need I say more?
I don't remember the details of the rest of the weekend but they included getting lots of household chores done; some of them, none too soon.  Saw the new George Clooney movie, Descendants, which was HIGHLY overrated, IMHO. It was just ok.  And I actually sewed a few therapy strips together, slicing up a couple of blah hand-prints I would never have otherwise used.
blah hand printed cloth
sliced and mixed with strips of shibori, hand-dyes, batik, and a couple of decades-old commercial fabrics

 Yesterday was an adventure: Alex Anderson and I chatted in an interview for The Quilt Show. Because my Skype on the computer wasn't working, I had to use my iPhone and without going into detail, the clip will need major editing to compensate for all the laughter!  Nonetheless, I'm excited to be interviewed for the show and will let you know when it will air. 
So now it's time for me to leave.  Jessica has been nominated as Publicist of the Year (up against George Clooney's publicist - LOL) and we're taking the train to D.C. to the awards luncheon at the National Press Club.  Jess doesn't expect to beat out the Hollywood crowd but it will be fun to get away and it was a big honor to have been nominated.

More when there is something to report.

Monday, November 21, 2011

weekend gifts

When I learned a few months ago that Jan Myers-Newbury was coming to Newark again to teach, I gave myself the gift of a weekend class with her.  Four years ago (can it be??!!) I took a 3 day with her when she was here and I couldn't resist another chance to play.  Jan is an excellent teacher who is mellow, patient, and extremely generous about sharing her techniques and information.   Here she is, demonstrating one way to wrap a pole.  There is no end to the possibilities.
Happily, there were lots of friends in the class: my friend Russ came up from Maryland and stayed with me for the weekend, which was a joy.  And Valerie Zeman, with whom I had been talking for several years on-line, was in class.  Here is  a gorgeous silk quilt she is making with vintage shibori pieces she has collected. Hand stitched, the picture doesn't begin to do it justice.

Here is one of my poles wrapped with leftover yarn and some raffia.
and here are a few pieces from day #1
I won't drive you crazy with an overabundance of pictures.  Last night, I laid out my favorites on the floor and here they are. Mine turned out to be very organic and I have no idea what I will do with them.
Some of them I will slice into strips and combine with who knows what; shibori does not play well with others and is not easy to use effectively.  But I must say, it is extremely interesting to look at. And the best part is its unpredictability.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


You have blown me away with your wonderful and moving responses to the question in my last post.  Your  generosity, evident in your answers, warms my heart; thank you for what is a real Thanksgiving gift.  I love the idea that Chris is going to ask this question at her Thanksgiving table and I think I will do the same.

Now I have to come up with my own thought-provoking question, but while I think about it, I'd like to open the floor to you.  What is a question you would like to ask that could yield an interesting conversation?  I have to admit that this idea of asking interesting/funny/thought-provoking questions is something I became hooked on when someone I knew recommended this website. OMG! What FUN, what stimulation, what conversation!  Look at some of the questions to get an idea of how good Noodle Talk is.  So cleverl!
I have to tell you that I brought Noodle Talk along to my birthday weekend with my girls. We played over breakfast and each of us answered the same question (which is one way of playing). You can believe me when I tell you we all learned something new about each other -- even though we thought we knew each other so well. And we laughed! Next time, I'm bringing it along to my art group so we can play while we eat lunch.

It is now the middle of the night.  I am having houseguests over the weekend, so I thought I had better clean up the disaster that used to be a desk area in the kitchen.  I didn't take a picture till I had already cleared quite a bit, so there is no "before."  But here is During: Stage 1.
A few hours later, During: Stage 2
Still not done, but tomorrow is another day (who said that??!).  In the meantime, one more picture for my un-wordless Wednesday.  The woods are brown, but here is my midget Japanese maple, behind the azalea, whose leaves have also turned red.

It is already tomorrow - so if there are any typos, I am not responsible and don't want to hear about it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

early week briefing

I spent most of  today signing books and putting them into the mail, so those of you who pre-ordered them should have them before the end of the week. I'm dancing as fast as I can.

Saturday, I attended the 50th reunion planning meeting for my Mt. Holyoke college class. I am not on the committee but they asked me to design a scarf for the occasion, so I was invited.   It was very lovely to reconnect with people I had not seen in almost that long and truthfully, we all look the same and most of us look 100 times better than we did back in the day:-).  Tonight, I dug up the 25th reunion booklet (I see that I neglected to write anything about myself) and finally found my yearbook.  Such a dorky, insipid  photo. That's who I was in those days.

I like myself a whole lot better these days, on every level, and am a lot happier.  But isn't that the way it should be for all of us?  Hopefully, we all like ourselves better 25 or 50 years later.

As long as we are being introspective (well, some of us) I will pass along a question that B.P. ( one of my most faithful readers) plans to ask people as Thanksgiving approaches.  I thought it was interesting but really couldn't answer it.

B.P. gave me permission to post it here, so I'd love to know how you would answer it.

We always think about what we are thankful for at this time of year, but here's the question:  What have you done that has made other people thankful?  It takes some thought, but please be sure to leave an answer in the comments section!

Right now, I am thankful for my bed, which awaits me at this ungodly late hour.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Yesterday was one of those serendipitous days where nothing turned out as I had expected it would, but actually turned out better.  It must have been the confluence of the date and the full moon.

When I got to the quilt show where Usha was supposed to be vending, I found her booth but her dear friends Cecelia and Gina were there instead.  Usha was fine, they told me, but she was at home in Hudson, NY. Long story.  I returned the quilt to the booth which she had lent me for the book (which I had made for her 8 years ago, before I even thought of writing a book about this method of working)
and took back the one I had lent her in exchange. Before  I did, however, somebody came along and asked if there was a kit for this. Uh - NO. It's Usha's fabric and my hand-printed cloth and I would think that people could figure out how to do a square-in-a-square themselves.  But nobody wants to think or make decisions. Cheesh! Everybody wants kits!
Anyway, I wanted to see Usha (and I had a book for her) so I called her and invited myself up to her digs and her store in Hudson. I figured I was already a third of the way there, so I drove the hour and a half on a beautiful autumn day and treated myself to a visit.  While I was there, Usha's friend Dave (who is now a friend of mine) came to visit and it turned out to be another serendipitous event for reasons too complicated to go into.

Usha wouldn't let us leave without feeding us a delicious meal, which she put together effortlessly. Dave and I each had long trips -- his to Pennsylvania and mine to NJ.
Here she is in her dining room, shelves of fabric and other things along the wall behind her.  Unfortunately, the three of us were so busy with other things that I didn't have time to even look at fabric.
Not, of course, that I actually NEED any.  But as my father used to say, "what does NEED have to do with it?
I left a little before 6:00 for the 2+ hour drive home.  And when I got off the NY Thruway, I accidently got off onto route 17 instead of the Garden State Parkway.  Accidently? I had to practically pass my son Jeremy's house on this wrong route home so of course, I called and stopped to see Jeremy, Anne, and my two adorable grandsons.  More serendipity - and it made me wonder whether my wrong turn had been an accident or 11-11-11 and the full moon at work again.  What a great way to end the day!

When I got home and turned on the computer, there was a link to the C&T blog that made me so happy!
Go here to see what Tristan Gallagher, a C&T staffer, did with some orphan blocks when she got hold of my book. What fun!

Today I am off to Larchmont, NY to see a bunch of women I haven't seen in almost 50 years - a college class reunion committee meeting. I'm not on the committee but was invited to the meeting as a guest. Should be another interesting day.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Birthday weekend: sublime to ridiculous: Part 2

A walk on the civilized beach in the last post was followed by a trip to Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook, which is a National Park and former army missle site.  There are lots of places to walk, the beach is undeveloped and scrubby, and the sand is rough.

It is a photographer's dream -- especially one who loves the grit of old, dilapidated buildings.  Perfect for me! This is just a small sample.
There were lots of rusty objects but I think it is a crime to remove things from Army property. So, on to the more luxurious part of the weekend... Part 2A.

I treated my girls (Hilary, Jessica, Anne Marie, and Nancy) to a spa weekend at the Hilton and we had a wonderful time.  Massages, followed by an afternoon of shopping at the Short Hills Mall. It was pure luxury for these moms who never get away by themselves to just wander without having to look at their watches. We did some serious damage and enjoyed ourselves in the process.

Dinner at the hotel was rather hilarious, due to the horrible service. The restaurant manager, Jason, charmed us all (and vice-versa) and we ended up being comped drinks, wine, extra appetizers, and dessert.  He brought out the chef so we could tell him what was good (he took credit) and not good (he claimed there was a substitute chef cooking the bad stuff) and we all had a wonderful time. It is not everyone who can turn multiple annoyances into a really fun evening, but Jason truly did. 
 A memorable celebration and enough laughter to last me for a while.
Do you think I will get my wish?

Monday, November 07, 2011

a good time was had by all, PART I:Jersey Shore

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! If you're going to turn 120, you might as well celebrate your birthday for more than one day. Right? Right.  This is what 120 looks like.

The revelry started when I went with a friend to an art opening at the Icehouse Gallery on a college campus down the shore.(Yes, That's what we say in New Jersey: not "at the shore" or "at the beach," but Down The Shore). But I digress...

The artist's name is Dahlia Elsayed and her work (acrylic on paper) is whimsical narrative that uses text and line in a maplike way , leaving the viewer to tell his/her own story. I love the ambiguity.

Before the reception, we went to Woodrow Wilson Hall, where Dahlia gave an artist's talk which focused on her creative process. The history of the building is fascinating; it was originally the Woolworth mansion and later, the summer White House for Woodrow Wilson.  What the official site does not show you is the drop-dead gorgeous ladies' room.
Can you believe this tilework???

These were the handpainted doors to the spacious stalls.
The campus is beautiful and since we were near the art building, it was only appropriate that there be some outdoor art.  This was my favorite.
And the old Public Service bus stop sign brought back a wave of nostalgia for the 29, 60, and 76 bus lines, long gone.
Then, some nature on campus.
After the reception, we drove over to the ocean - not far from campus.  The weather was nice enough to walk on the beach and there were even some people surfing.  I am not a shore person and I think the last time I walked on a beach was in Santa Cruz about 4 years ago. Some of the sights on this stretch of sand were rather strange, making me think we had stumbled upon a movie set or forgotten props for a photo shoot.
This is more typical, but these gulls were so tame, they did not run away when i came over to take their photos.

More tomorrow.  This time change is getting to me and I need to go to sleep. I travel time zones with no problem, but we turn the clocks back one hour and I am a disaster.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

paper piecing and Art Quilt Tahoe

In Houston, I met Carol Doak, paper-piecing guru, for the first time.  We roomed together and shared some meals. She is great fun and has a wonderful sense of humor! I once tried it and if you know me, you can imagine how much I enjoyed its precision.  Sometime between 1993 and 1999 I made a challenge piece for a traveling exhibit.

The challenge was to use a traditional block in a non-traditional way (or some such requirement).  I chose the Palm block, which had to be paper-pieced.  It almost did me in but I managed to finish it.  Here is the small quilt, which still makes me smile: in those days, I had a sense of whimsy that seems to have deserted me.  I called it Palm Tree but I could also have called it Palm Beach.


It seemed to me as I walked the Market floor, that every other booth sold patterns for traditional blocks -- both regular patterns and paper-piecing ones.  I didn't give them a glance -- until I came to Carolyn Friedlander's booth. It stopped me cold.  If I were a paper-piecer who didn't want to do the same old/same old traditional blocks, I would be in heaven.  Carolyn is an art quilter who loves to paper piece, so she has come up with these contemporary, spare, orginal patterns. This is just a small sample.

This was Carolyn's first market and her website is under construction but if you know anybody who is a non-trad paper-piecer, send them the link and she'll let them know when her site is up. 

Now I have to go mail one of my quilts to Art Quilt Tahoe for their 2012 teacher exhibit.  I'll be teaching a four day Jump-staring the Art Quilt there in November 2012. Classes fill quickly, so don't wait too long!  If you go to their blog and sign up for updates, you'll get a chance to sign up early. Their new venue is more affordable and don't forget, scholarships are available!

I'll have some other teaching news posted soon and will post my schedule for 2012 and beyond as I have the dates.

a few more bits on Market

Here I am with Joyce Hartley and her daughter Phoebe. Joyce ownd the fabulous quilt store in Richmond, VA called Quilting Adventures.  It's large and is a destination for art quilters; I'll be teaching there in 2012 and will let you know when we have coordinated our schedules and nailed down a date -- probably in the Fall of 2012.  Will be here before we know it!
 As I wandered, I saw Jane Sassman, who directed me down the aisle  to see what new fabric goodies Paula Nadelstern has come up with.  This first one was bejeweled and so were the hanging ornaments.  There was plenty of sparkle in this booth!

On the way back to C&T's booth, I was accosted by The Cat in the Hat and the onlly way to get rid of him was to have my picture taken with him.
This cheerful pillow caught my fancy because it has an uncalculated quality about it (although it probably isn't) and I really love the colors and patterns of the fabrics.  Reminds me of the quilt I made for you-know-who.

And speaking of you-know-who, I simply had to post a couple of Halloween pictures. Her first lollipop and Snickers. Uh Oh! No need to comment.

soup weather in June and a little more

DISCLAIMER: Blogger is giving me grief tonight, which you will see by the varying sizes of the type. Ye p, soup weather and it's ...