Category Archives: quilting


I have lots of ideas in my head.  They need transference to my hands.  This week I was able to accomplish a couple of these.  Ideas are really nothing until action is visited upon them.  Firstly, this-

silk gauze cording

Silk shibori gauze tubing.  In the testing stages and time will be needed to ramp it up into  production mode.  More endless possibilities.  I will be selling this by the yard on a retail only level in the new year-limited colors to begin with.  More on this to follow.  Maybe no one will love it like I do but this is the sort of thing that feeds my soul.  I conquered the ribbon.  I need a new and more challenging conquest.   I found a couple pendants that matched this colorway…


Watermarked Photo 1 (2015-12-12-1025)

Sorry for the crappy photo-taken on the fly.  But more wondering about silk shibori ribbon bead embroidery.  This is interesting on a few levels.  Firstly, because it is from scraps that customers don’t want. I love that.  When customers started complaining that the ends of their ribbon rolls were ugly, I started cutting them off and saving them for myself.  I thought they were the most interesting part of the roll.  Go figure.  That’s been the story of my life.  So here I have a huge box of “ends” that I don’t even put into scrap bags.  Mine, all mine!!  Now when I make a roll of ribbon I try to make the “ugliest” ends possible!  It suits me.

Secondly, Katrina and I have been busy finalizing our Silk Experience calendar for the Houston Quilt Festival 2016. It’s now finished and checked off the list.  One of the new teachers has a lightweight gridded single sided fusible product that I ordered a sample of. I have other ideas for it but in the meantime, it occurred to me to try it for my shibori ribbon brooch/pendant sample for the class I submitted to Quilts Inc. for next year.  It works great for quickly stabilizing a pleated design with the ribbon.  Just arrange and pin the ribbon to the stabilizer and hit with some steam from the back side quickly – easily holding the ribbon in place prior to beading.  This can also be done with sections of the ribbon that I see art quilters using.  Just a simple thing really, but useful.

And some of what is heading to Italy…soon

ribbon brillante!

In indigo shibori news, Buddy loves his linen pillows. Silly dog.



Post-show recovery

It’s over and I’m home.  A long 10 days of constant action and responsibilities. Classes, setup, teardown, travel and the lugging of more stuff than I want to remember.  Until next year!

A few highlights included classes that went smoothly, a great booth setup, and seeing so many customers and students from throughout the years. Also had some crazy weather and flooding! Note to self: pack boots next year! (I did pack umbrellas and a raincoat!)

I got to meet Deb McClintock of the blog NATURAL DYEING IN THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY.  I have enjoyed her adventures in natural dyeing for some time now.  She also grows and dyes with indigo, madder and pomegranate (among other things). Thanks for taking the time to stop by Deb! Got to visit with Judith Montano a bit- she is so busy teaching every year at Festival she hardly gets down to the show floor.   I have admired her book Elegant Stitches for many years- have a copy of the original edition from way back and love how her work has transitioned from crazy quilting into the lovely landscapes she does now. Had a little time with Brooke from Hannah Silks- we go way back. So far back that neither one of us can any longer remember how long ago!  Was saddened to hear that her mom Hannah had passed away- she was the Hannah behind the silk.

It was a pleasure to see and meet up with folks who appreciate the techniques and materials behind the textiles.  I really enjoy the vintage dealers most I think (Carola Pfau of Textile Treasures, June Colburn, Carol Saber and others).  Their knowledge of the textiles they sell is priceless. These textiles teach us so much. What do the textiles of today teach us?  I wonder. A customer came to talk to me about what she had seen at the show.  She felt that the prizewinning quilts were lacking something. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it at first.  They were detailed, precise, painstakingly designed, impressive in scale, pleasing to look at…yet, something was missing.  Our conversation turned to the missing element- the fact that so much of the quilting done these days and especially for big quilt prizes is technology and consumer driven. Ever more sophisticated machines, tools and fabrics dominate.  In some of these pieces it causes them to feel sterile, almost as if they weren’t make by hand.  But yet they are. Such precision in cutting, stitching, and profusion of color and design made available by the limitless palette of modern fabrics takes away something I think. Comparing the vintage quilts in the show with their newer cousins one causes one to wonder about all this. I know I am speaking blasphemy when I say this.  One can wonder can’t one?

Today the show boxes arrived and were unpacked and I will send out emails to catch up a bit.  I needed a few days to recover (I forgot to mention the visit to the Urgent Doc in Houston did I?) and regain my balance, literally.  Perhaps some leftover items will appear in the shop by the end of next week…

There’s an upcoming workshop at the JANM to prepare for (sold out) and orders to start on in addition to a few custom orders placed at the show. Time to get busy…

People at the show were already excited about the 2017 Silk Study Tour to Japan and wanted to write me checks  but I am not ready for that just yet.  Hirata San and I are working out the new itinerary already and will have it up by January 30.  This time we will do 12 nights and include Kyoto!  What fun.  To be informed of these details please sign yourself up for my Constant Contact newsletter in the sidebar and make sure to check Silk Study Tour as an area of interest.

And in Freer news… I have added the Silk Shibori Ribbon Poinsettia Brooch PDF which includes links to the two videos on how to make this holiday piece.  I have also added a PDF to the simple shibori fringed flower.  This is easily made with small scraps you may have around. Please enjoy.

Here are a few shots from the show- big thanks to Donna and Virginia for helping me get through it all- you both were integral to the whole.  Also thanks to Katrina Walker and the whole Silk Experience team of teachers and Quilts Ed staff for doing a great job at Quilt Festival. It was very much appreciated.

momijigari…momiji to momizu

“The word “momiji” means that trees are changing to their autumn colors and it originates from the old word “momizu”, which means to dye something red.” this from a site “created by ordinary Japanese folks to help foreign nationals better understand the fascinating culture of Japan”, called Treasure House.

“momijigari” refers to the national Japanese passion for viewing the colors of fall leaves as they change throughout the country- much like the spring passion of cherry blossom viewing (hanami).

the seasonal and short-lived beauty of nature is not only a passion in Japan but one artists worldwide have reflected in their works forever- a constant source of inspiration.

the more colors start to change, the more i get anxious to hover over the dyepot. here in southern california we don’t get the full impact of the riotous colors of fall leaves i remember from my time living in Japan and Virginia, so hand dyed silk will have to suffice. i am working on so many things right now in preparation for the Houston show. however much you enjoy the images i post of my work, i encourage you to come and see me in person at one of the upcoming events. there really isn’t anything like meeting you in person. online culture can only take us so far.

and…colored cats being fed colored chow for colored cocoons!

…coming up- some video of last year’s Silk Study Tour and details about the upcoming trip in 2011. spaces still available but we plan to see those filled by the end of november as we are promoting it heavily at the Houston show. happily, we can report that at this point, 75% of the Silk Experience classes at Houston are filled with many people being turned away and put on overflow/waiting lists. interest in silk is definitely on the rise! when i first started doing the shows with my silk the only other booth devoted to silk was maggie’s booth- Silk Things. we will have our booths back to back and up front at the Houston show– come see us in booths 1100 and 1200!

what’s in bloom?

the past couple of days have been devoted to flower making and here are a couple of the new blooms-

(to see full image sizes and comments, click on the thumbnail pics)

other things in the making too but no time to preview now- come on by the booth in Long Beach and check it out-#1150

feathering the nest-booth 1150

the female moths are busy laying eggs now and i am busy preparing things for my booth at the upcoming Long Beach Quilt Festival. my booth is my nest of sorts for the duration of the show and i like to see it properly feathered.

jude’s spirit will be with us as well. she is sending this and a few other things for proper feathering.

the ribbons are piling up under the full moon-

some threads will make an appearance in the indigo *department*

(cotton and silk-solids, ombres, shibori’d)

also new in the *indigo department* will be a selection of what i am calling Whole Cloth.
larger pieces of indigo fabrics including my sea and sky fabrics as well as shibori indigo.
due to the time required to make these, they are somewhat limited.
they include cottons, silks, hemp, linen, wool and other interesting fabrics.

above us only sky-left to right-sunny, partly cloudy, & June Gloom

i will be posting up more pics as i can but most of my time over the next week is devoted to nest making.

shibori, silkworms, and other travelers

some days, i find myself feeling a little like this guy- needing to get away from it all. i suppose a respite from the maddening munching crowd was a welcome relief for him- they are getting big enough you can actually hear them eating!

they are just endlessly fascinating! between caretaking them, foraging for local mulberry, dyeing, ironing silk, and a hundred other tasks (class proposals for Cincinatti 2011) orders, and getting things together for the Long Beach show, i decided to close the etsy and big cartel shops for a few weeks. i need fewer distractions in order to get some work together to fill the booth otherwise it feels as if i am a pup chasing its tail! so look for them to open in a few weeks- let you know on that account.

even though i am in Jude’s class i haven’t had time to enjoy it except as an observer of all the wonderful and creative thinking going on over there. that alone is worth the cost of admission. such lovely work and words- nice to see some of my indigo put to use in so many ways. Her next class is here.

we had some travelers stop by the other day. family from Iceland dropped in and we got the boys together as well before one takes off on another band tour. we ate, visited, and of course, had a little time for blue.

the family

some solid blue to go with the moon she made…

AND….the info is out for the 2011 Silk Study Tour to Japan. If you would like to consider going, let me know and I will send you the newsletter via constant contact. I will put a tab up here on the blog soon but have a few other deadlines going today…

now, must go serve the not so tiny masters…

tiny masters and makiage

as micheal so aptly describes silkworms on his famous website Wormspit the silkworms have become my tiny masters. Susan from ito de is also working at raising some too, with varied success. so far i’m good but still i expect i may kill them off at any point in this adventure. here are a few pics at day 5. remember, they were much smaller when they first hatched (hard to believe)-

a few progress pics of the makiage piece you saw in the last post-the front side

back side-

and then the madness that is the drawing up of all these threads- a little more madness than i counted on so to remedy that i made adequate preparations…

it certainly did help-

then the indigo madness began-

culminating in this result-

now before you go all gaga and approve, i have some criticisms of the piece to list. first, while all the stitching lines held and the process in general went well, the overall design is not very desirable for makiage.
hard to tell really that it is a fish (if you didn’t know beforehand). so perhaps a bit too complicated for this size of a piece. i think it would have been much improved to my liking if some of the stitching had been eliminated altogether. while these stencils were fine for kanoko shibori, not all of them will translate well to this application. most though are not this complicated and now that i see this i know better which ones i might choose to use in this way. i will say though that using the powdered (cosmetic grade) ground indigo to brush over the stencil worked beautifully and transferred the design efficiently. i’m going to go through the stencils and pick out a few more that i want to try out. i wonder if any of you out there might be interested in purchasing some cotton marked with the design and stitch them up yourselves… think i will test out the thought at the upcoming Quilt Festival in Long Beach.

off to work…and yes, i do know it is a holiday!

happy vativersary!

things are best expressed in pictures today, so to make note that this is the 2 year “vativersary” of vat #1
(SYNV- see last post). we now have a NATV -natural vat- notice i have taken out the “F” -it’s no longer a fermentation vat.

you can see the first results 2 years ago here.

rainy day break

well, i survived another show.
today is rainy and my car is still packed with my booth. i’ll wait for a break in the rain to unload (i hope!) or just go ahead and do it in the rain i suppose.
the surfers in the house thought they would be going surfing today and i decided in my head that i would join them- build a fire in the rain and cook some food, perhaps sitting in the car, stitching or reading while watching them out on the horizon. but they have checked the surf report and seen that the waves are not to their liking so who knows what will happen today? in the meantime, i curled up on a couch and read some more Burchfield. i find a lot of comfort in his writing- his ups and downs, his highs and lows, torn between belief and disbelief. such passion. i read:

August 30, 1914
I sometimes feel, as tonight, that not until I at some time give my passions full play will I ever attain any kind of peace. And yet I fully know that such indulgence brings a worse state of mind. Thus is a man always fighting.

i see my feelings about doing shows changing these days. there are lots of reasons-many having to do with the changing tide of my own work. perhaps it is the moon’s gravitational pull on earth. as if the recent moon work is creating its own spring tides and pulling me towards it. i don’t know.
some of the other reasons have to do with the fact that i am creating work that is simply less commercial these days and still trying to support myself. and the work i am creating simply takes a lot of time. while everyone that passes by my booth is quite taken by the beautiful silk, the riotous colors, the fine pleating of the scarves and ribbon, the price remains higher than affordable to many in this economy. i am still figuring all this out and the current economy is proving quite the challenge. i do find it interesting though that while sales are down all over, costs continue to rise. booth fees, shop rents go up. one would think that in order to keep vendors coming back the fees would stay set or even drop a bit but apparently there are waiting lists (or so we’re told) of many waiting their chance to take an empty space.
i do so enjoy the contact with the customers though- really a necessity for me. if i don’t see them face to face from time to time i can’t come up with ideas that inspire them to use what i do make. one of my favorite things at a show is when a mom will bring her kids in. really. i love to talk to them about what they like to do with their creative time. i always give them a length of ribbon to take away and explore. the way they fondle the pleated ribbon, opening and closing it, feeling its softness- you can almost see the wheels turning in their heads. they pick a color- such unexpected happy fun- for both of us!

-then there are the stories like this-
two women come into the booth- gaga over everything- love this, so beautiful, etc., etc., and upon seeing the silk shibori pocket squares, one remarks “oh! my husband would LOVE these!” sensing a sale, i encourage her to open some of them up and as she does she sees the price ($20) to which she says “he’s not worth the $20!” . trying to recover the moment i say “oh come on now, you don’t really mean that”. to which she says, “oh yes i do!” her friend nods and they leave the booth. thankfully. the stories i could tell. well, as you can see, shows have their ups and downs.
i was heartened however, to sell some of my indigo moon bookmarks (a few left over and available at the etsy shop). they took a moment to stop, look and read the description i had written and loved them. you had to slow down a moment to appreciate them and it pleased me greatly that some people did take the time.

Burchfield later wrote:

September 27 1916
Sometimes I wonder at the Multitude of Ideas I gather- does profusion breed confusion? I think it is rather like the prolific quality of Nature, who scatters seed in such great quantities where only one out of a million may grow.

if i only felt i knew which ones to spend my time and energy on…