Tag Archives: houston quilt festival

Remembering Carola…

First of all, I want to say a little something here about my friend who passed away last week from breast cancer. Some of you who attend the Houston Quilt Festival or Roundtop/Marbuger know her. I’ve mentioned her here on various occasions as hers was always my favorite booth at the Houston Quilt Festival. Not only was she brilliant, she was a lover of good cloth, cloth with a history. Carola Pfau and I became friends over ten years ago after meeting at the show. Her booth, Textile Treasures, was always just that- a treasure trove of interesting and instructive textiles she had collected from around the world, most predominately from Japan and Germany. Over the years we bonded over that cloth, shared vendor frustrations and joys (we shared many of the same wonderful customers at the show), helped each other out, and had more than a few delicious after show dinners.
I have lots of stories I could tell about my times with Carola but the best thing I can share about her is her will to live, to live life her way, and to leave this earthly realm a better place for her having been here. She spent the last number of years enjoying traveling in her RV with her beloved cats making new friends, visiting old ones, and sharing her adventures and tribulations with all of us online. Her recent favorite saying was FUCK CANCER! I will miss her…
A couple of stories… One year I eyed a particularly nice piece of hand spun and handwoven european linen in her booth and just knew it was worthy of some indigo dyeing. I bought the piece, $100 for a 2 yard cut (special vendor discount applied) and returned from the show with it. It was about 20″ wide, had lots of character, texture, and potential. I was actually a bit intimidated by it. I didn’t want to ruin it! I hung it on the back of a door near my flower making table and just looked at it for a year. Finally, I made the attempt. I sketched out a plan and set up to dye the piece. I opted for simplicity, applying some itajime techniques I learned from Satoh san. Satisfied with the result, it must have been two shows after making the purchase, I took it back to the Houston show, hung it on the edge of the booth, and put a price on it. Carola wandered by the booth and admired it and asked the price. I asked if she remembered this cloth. She laughed when she realized I had bought it from her. She ended up taking it back to her booth. We had a good laugh about that. I was so pleased she liked it enough to buy it back (vendor discount applied).
Carola had spent a lot of time and had lived in Japan with her husband Makoto. One year, when I was going to Japan, she insisted I stay in her room at their apartment in Tokyo. She was in Austin but Makoto was fine with it she said. It was a great visit. Makoto loved to haunt the temple sales and flea markets which was exactly what I wanted to do. We spent a couple of days having the best time shopping for textiles, some for me and others for Carola that I knew would sell at the shows Carola was doing at the time. It was that trip that I found the used zakuri (silk reeling device) that I brought back with me (more on the zakuri later in the post). Makoto had a nice collection of porcelain sake cups he was adding to. He also took me to see the Mingei Museum for the first time. (old blog post on this here)
Treasured memories AND textiles!
Right around the time I met her, I remember her telling about her attempt to get her license renewed at the DMV. She sent me this link. It is classic Carola! I went back and watched it. It also reminded me of how she took no prisoners with the medical and insurance companies during her fight to get the healthcare she needed and wanted after her breast cancer diagnosis. She visited me in her travel van early on in order to get access to cannabis edibles that were available here in CA but not in TX. They helped her sleep when difficult treatments and medications did not.
Her sister wrote a blog post in memoriam to Carola.
Ahhh Carola…you will be missed, remembered dearly and hilariously!
Sayonara Carola- mata ne!

Continuing along about the zakuri I purchased in Japan, I recently received a note from my favorite shibori expert Karren Brito. She was interested in procuring a zakuri that she could pass along to friends in Oaxacca that are raising silkworms there. Since workshops here are not happening for a while, I thought that that the zakuri I purchased in Japan with Makoto would be doing more service there than here. I have the other one I am using and I loved the idea of sending it to Karren and the silk workers down there. She tells me that they have been raising silkworms in Mexico for 500 years! I did not know this. She also tells me that in order to get silkworm eggs from the government for commercial rearing, you must have 200 mulberry trees. Interesting! Boxed up and sent via DHL, the zakuri is now stuck in customs in Mexico City…we await clearance. Apparently, being made of wood, there is a concern. Wish us luck!

In silkworm news here, the “tiny masters” have entered the 3rd instar (stage). It’s much easier to clean the trays now they are larger. I have a couple of neighborhood kids raising 20 each. It’s a good project for kids. Two are elementary schoolers and the other is a HS student. I sent them all several interesting links to study. They asked me if they could let them emerge, mate, and lay eggs. Yes!

As for the numbers…we reached 100 deaths this past weekend and are now up to 108 as of today. I need to rip more strips of indigo fabric… ūüė¶

It’s been hot here lately-mid to upper 90’s even here at the beach. Thankfully, today started a cooling trend. The garden is coming along nicely-lots of vegetables!

Milo the cat has resumed coming downstairs! He hasn’t been downstairs in years! Maybe it’s the silkworms…
This is actual speed video. The others I have posted were time lapsed. Here they look like they are living in slo-mo.

And, finally, I was putting together various test scraps from the fermentation vat for a base when I heard about Carola. It prompted me to dig into some of the linen I still had from her, cut a strip and dye a moon. This is now morphing into something else entirely.

If a picture is worth a thousand words…

Thought I’d do a little (or maybe not so little) post on whats been going on behind the scenes here lately.¬† Lot’s of various things- like workshops, studio work, a little flu (all gone now!), RAIN!, and working on the Silk Study Tour to Japan for 2019.

I received the Newsletter from the Fresno FiberArts Guild where I gave a workshop recently. What a great guild-very energized and involved in the community. It was wonderful to see the many resources  and skills available within the membership.  Plus, they were a delightful group to work with!

In the studio, ribbon making continues…

as well as more playing around with silk organza…

The flu came and went -thankfully, not too bad. Hoping the same for you out there! So many have had it in one form or another.
We did get rain this month-so big YAY on that!¬† Rain barrels full and the garden is refreshed. Snowpack increasing…
There are a number of milkweed plants out back with caterpillars on them but one in particular has about 15 large caterpillars about ready to form crysalis’. I never get tired of watching them.

All the other critters here are well…

And finally, I sent out the information packs, itinerary, and registration forms for the upcoming Silk Study Tour to Japan 2019 last week to those early birds who had signed up via the Constant Contact newsletter. Already 1/3 of the spots are filled.  If you need info, you can access the newsletter here. Here are some highlights from last year:

Next post I will list upcoming workshops both at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and my November workshops at the Houston Quilt Festival.

Hope you are well and wondering daily!



Houston Quilt Festival cocoon

I have been existing in a silk cocoon these past 10 days which has been wonderful considering the noise out there in the “real” world.

In the lifecycle of a silkworm, the cocoon has evolved to protect the silkworm as it pupates and transforms into a silk moth. It offers protection against predator threats as well as not so obvious threats of bacteria and other harsh realities providing its own ideal environment inside, regulating air, water, and temperature conditions inside the cocoon as the transformation occurs.

This is not unlike a trip to Houston and the International Quilt Festival.  We are inside the GRB Convention Center halls, in our own little (HUGE!) cocoon.  As I observe my own self in this cocoon, I also observe others around me and see many transformations taking place. We are seemingly oblivious to the noise occurring outside this cocoon. We are buzzing inside here, creating an energy that is exciting and palpable. The election, other news, and even connections to family and friends not present, cease to exist for the most part.

We Are Here.  We are reminded what it is to get away from our usual activities and places.  We are gathered together inside to create, learn, teach, view beauty and connect. Inside this cocoon we meet new people and learn from them, and we learn about ourselves from these interactions. We work as a team, making things go smoothly for all. When something falls out of place, there is a rush forward to help, to solve. In classes (both as teachers and students) we learn how to fail, to accept, to improve and to create solutions. We share joy in all of this and through viewing the immense display of quilts we experience beauty, talent, process and progress.

We know we will return, each of us to our own realities and places, back to our friends and families and home. But we will return transformed. We have seen so much beauty inside that cocoon, so much joy, sharing and caring for each other in this creative playground of cloth and fiber.  Perhaps this is where the comparison ends. Unlike the silk moth who will exist only a short time more, we will continue on, perhaps unraveling the cocoon as we return filled with new ideas and intention, having made new friends, strengthened old ones and set out on new paths and directions.

Here now at the airport, I am slowly emerging from this cocoon, having been once again transformed by the experience. I met so many, heard many stories, and shared much. Thanks to all who visited, took classes, participated in so many ways large and small.

patched up and mending

I figure at this point it will be easier to do a blog post than respond to folks individually regarding the goings on here the past couple of weeks.

Turned out that in a follow-up xray for the pneumonia that plagued me from Yosemite through Houston something odd was spotted on one of my ribs that required a follow up CT. ¬†This revealed that yes, indeed, something odd was growing on one of the ribs. ¬†Chances were a tumor and being unable to needle biopsy it, removal was the best course of action. ¬†So a couple of nights in the hospital between Christmas and NY. ¬†All went well and final results should be back this week. ¬†Even though the surgeon doesn’t seem like a betting sort of fellow he actually told me that “99% chance” is that it is benign. ¬†I’m holding out that NY bottle of champagne for that final confirmation.

A couple of things. ¬†It hurts! They did some sort of surgical nerve block thingy which permanently cuts a section of nerves to reduce pain. Thankful for that! ¬† I guess without it I might just drive someone crazy (r). I don’t react well to strong painkillers (nausea) so have some codine with tylenol that takes the edge off. ¬†Everyday brings a change. ¬†Today being better than yesterday! I will be fine. ¬†Eventually. I am up and around. I have a couple of friends going through much much tougher crap than this and I know I am incredibly fortunate. I salute their strength and persistence!

We also had a fun day at the ER on Christmas as Amma (Icelandic for Grandma) fell and broke her ankle, cracked her head and ribs. This was a couple days before my hospital visit. ¬†She is all OK -light break, head staple (out now) and ribs painful but improving. ¬†Main issue is she can’t go home. She lives in a 2nd floor apartment so she is here for the next 6 weeks for sure.

Boy, when things change, they change!! The boys have cycled in and out to help but Phil is here full time to do the heavy lifting. I am indeed lucky as he is patient and a good caretaker-sometimes bossy but i’m told i’m difficult (imagine that!). So for those asking about their orders, things are a little slower than usual. ¬†But still moving along. ¬†After all, hospital bills must be paid along with the usual bunch.
So, moving on…
The dogs and cats¬†have never been so happy to have so many lounging around! Bella likes nursery rhymes with kittens in clothes- a gift from meagan from my childhood kitten fetish-revisiting…


and there has been time for me to enjoy Donna’s book-

Fashion history from the Kyoto Costume Museum collection

Fashion history from the Kyoto Costume Museum collection

I even pulled out one of my favorite collected pieces to look at-I don’t think I’v shared it here (at least not in many many years). this is the inside of a silk velvet cape. special kasuri silk weaving with supplemental metallic¬†threads. it’s a marvelous thing. ¬†every now and then i just pull it out to gape at its glory and finger its textures.
rusched silk velvet collar inside kasuri

Then one day I played with more of the gridded fusible that Carmen Geddes sampled me. I used it for a beaded ribbon embroidery piece I’m still working on but wondered how it might work to tame the ribbon into a more traditional use. ¬†Maggie was always after me to do something like this. ¬†Carmen was kind enough to also send me her booklet which featured a photo on the back of her and her 9 sisters. ¬†I realized why her business is called TenSisters. ¬†Quite the sweet photo! Wow, imagine ten sisters! ¬†In grabbing that link I just read that there were also 7 brothers!! ¬†Oh my! I’m looking forward to meeting her this coming year at Houston where she will be applying her skills to silk in the Silk Experience classroom.

nine patch-

nine patch-

nine patch detail

silver gold silver gold- for some reason I had never done this combo until one of the Italian designers requested it.  I can see how they will enjoy working with this colorway in their jewelry

and because I always enjoy the ghost colors that come up in the discharge process of certain base colors. ¬†they are those colors that appear halfway up the pleat and don’t get drowned out by the overdye. ¬†not all colors have this aspect.
ghost colorsand one more…gore-tex! ¬†in place of that pesky rib I now have some medical Gore-Tex patching me together. kinda cool stuff. inert in the body -like silk. ¬†I have really integrated textiles into my life!

By Abrev improved picture impression (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Abrev improved picture impression (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I have to add a couple more stories here. Not too long ago I received a thank you email from a gal who had been buying scrap bags pretty regularly. She wrote to say that she wanted to thank me for the ribbon and the dragonfly pattern as she was able to retire a size-able medical bill by making and selling the shibori ribbon dragonfly pins.  she also worked up a butterfly design as well and both had contributed to freeing herself from this burden and she was doing well.  How great is that?

Then, the afternoon of my surgery I was resting in my room and received a wonderful new years note from Wendy with a child’s thank you for some of my pieces that are used in her therapy work. ¬†She told of coming to know the color blue even though she can’t see it and the way she maps life through the textiles. Who is healing who here?



fine gardening

-the top of four layers of silk shibori flowers in this last box shipping out to the show today. 

almost too pretty to close. 

busy …

booth 1620

being well prepared is half the victory

arashi shibori on silk

vintage kasuri and taiten

some smaller bits

materials for the indigo workshop

Shibori ribbon flower kits

Shibori ribbon, of course…

indigo, always indigo

and thank you for the overwhelming response to my workshops. when they fill 2 times over  I understand they get to automatically repeat the class next year.  that would be nice!

and…while I am leading the indigo workshop the very talented Mary Alice Sinton of Blue Bonnet Studio will be working the booth. Mary Alice is a certified teacher of both Traditional Japanese Embroidery and Japanese Bead Embroidery. She travels and teaches many classes. Come by and say hello!
Houston Quilt Festival 2013

a little shop update-indigo sky and more

i’ve put a few new things in the shop this morning..
(go straight to the shop and view all new items on one page)

mainly, some indigo sky fabric: 4 -1/2 yard cuts of cotton lawn sky. each comes with a little indigo silk sky as a thank you.

sky on cotton lawn

also, some more silk shibori ribbon combo packs each comes with a clip of one of the new organza ribbons

3 borealis baby!

and some indigo diffusion organza ribbon with an indigo solid blue sky ribbon to match. i’ve been experimenting with indigo a bit. wondering and what-iffing. something new…
included just for fun is a silk cocoon i raised last time

shiborigirl indigo organza ribbons

also, one of the carry the moon bags remains. these are really special-one of the favorite things i have made i think. i’m really looking forward to keeping one for myself out of the next batch. i will also add that i like making practical things that can be used every day. this is one of those things.
wrapped in something special.



i am making more to take to houston. i will be in booth 903 next to my friend jennifer who has some pretty fantastic vintage ribbons and across from helen gibb of flower and ribbon fame herself! i think we will have a ribbon and silk party! flowers too~
my houston class schedule is:
~monday october 31 all day shibori dye class (and indigo too)
class # 110 9am-5pm still a few openings
~wednesday november 2 fashioning fabrics in silk-flowers & insects class #243 9am-12 noon-
sign up here at the Quilts Inc site.
even if you don’t get into one of the classes, come visit the silk experience room during the lunch break to see what the silk experience teachers have to offer. we usually try to have someone in the room and available during that time.

folks are still adding themselves to the group for the high desert silk experience.

on the horizen~ the JANM has asked me to add a two-day workshop in january (the 21st & 22nd). this in addition to the one already scheduled in march.

and here’s today’s photo of the tiny masters:
day 4

tiny masters day 4

more working backwards…

(my son was at the grocery store one day and texted me this random photo…he’s often thinking of (how to tease) me- funny photo-also an example of how quilting is sold via magazines in the grocery store-magazines are just weird to me these days anyway)
since i am working backwards here- there was something i forgot to mention in the last post which i wanted to make sure to tell you. one day during the show a woman came into the booth holding up a $50 bill in front of me. there were several others in the booth and i was quite busy attending to them all. this woman proceeded to tell me she had come by to give me this $50 because a couple of years ago she had charged something with me and there had been a problem and the amount had never been collected. she had hoped to come last year but couldn’t and had felt so badly about it she wanted to make sure she came to me first off. she gave me the bill and sped off leaving us all to marvel at her actions. certainly there had been a circumstance that needed rectifying (i had long given up on it-the cost of doing business and moving forward) but still it just was a lovely gesture and a testament to the quality of people who attend the quilt show. just wanted to say…thanks for exemplifying that -whoever you were!
prior to the show opening i taught two classes in Houston. i flew in early to help Maggie set up the Silk Experience classroom. it was really such a luxury to come in early to set up and have my own key to the teaching room so i could set up not only the room for all the teachers who would be teaching that week, but also so that i could set up for my own (first) all day shibori dye class at my own pace without being rushed. truly a luxury. after setting up the room as a whole with Maggie (of Silk Things ) i took a few photos of the displays we put up.

we had a display panel for each of the teachers who would be teaching. this serves not only to decorate our room but to educate all who enter for the week of classes about the other teachers and classes that are offered. they can then see what classes and teachers they might want to sign up for in the future. Judith Baker Montano also had a beautiful display and taught for us there but her display wasn’t set up when i took the photos and in all the goings on i neglected to go back and get a photo of it- just plain forgot-darn! she has a new book out which is just beautiful. it was great to see all the silk teachers again this year!
and just to let you know- i got absolutely zero pics during the all day workshop- was just too involved and busy- guess ya had to be there, sorry. maybe someone else did and will post them. but everyone had a good time and i even made a small indigo vat for everyone to take a dip in-most had never experienced indigo (used the pre-reduced indigo crystals and while they worked for our purposes the vat was fairly short lived and needed reviving part way through-there were 26 students though).
another thing of particular interest to shoppers in my booth was my Square Up device that allows for real time swiped credit card transactions via my iPhone. i’ve waited patiently since May for it’s arrival and received it just before the show. i discovered a few flaws but overcame most quickly. an unexpected delay in accessing my funds is still plaguing me but i get what they are doing and should have read the fine print first. this too will resolve itself with time.

i’ll start at the end, i’ll work backwards…

it’s been over a month now since the last post which is pretty rare for me but with so many moving parts and unexpected surprises (putting it mildly) i just have not been able to get myself to write a blog post. this will be a long post and i might break it up over the course of the week-we’ll just have to see.

i’ll start at the end
i’ll work backwards
from where we began
we were young, and ambitious
-back then…

-this song has been a favorite of mine since they recorded it and it just seemed appropriate here
(lyrics by Tristan Dolce, song title- Lou…give me a milk, album title Arrivals, Delays, & Departures by From Cities to Oceans
(iTunes link provided to purchase download)

i’ve felt things have been moving at a snail’s pace in some areas and i found this little guy while out walking the dog…a reminder that even at a snail’s pace progress gets made.

so, starting at the end, and working backwards- i’m back home now. the Houston Quilt Festival was successful by my own definition- which means i made some money, my classes went well and i got great evaluations on all, my lecture proceeded albeit with a potentially fatal mistake on my part which was thankfully avoided in part due to a very kind and forgiving audience (and a cell phone). the show attendance was reportedly up with somewhere around 55,000 between Market and Festival.
since i am starting at the end, i will say that the last leg of the return flight had us mysteriously circling out over the Pacific for 20 minutes or so after we made our initial approach to the runway without landing. upon our arrival we were told that the landing gear would not come down and that we were not informed until afterward because the pilot was just too darn busy taking care of business. glad i didn’t know. upon retrieving my luggage i found my brand new samsonite case had it’s wheels sheared off completely but after seeing the line at the US Airways counter of people whose flight had just been canceled due to our plane’s “mechanical difficulty” i decided to fore go complaining about such small details. ces’t la vie-literally! back to Marshalls for another case next time round. part of the cost of doing business.

speaking of costs…during the question and answer portion of my lecture, i was asked a couple of very basic questions. while i was surprised, looking back i guess i shouldn’t have been. my initial intention with the lecture was to offer up some very basic and practical thoughts for those considering starting out on their own in a small creative type business-after all, i only had an hour to broach such a large and involved subject. i did not intend it to be a “how to” on starting your own business but what i realized was that some of the questions which were asked showed me that people really wanted some real help on pricing their work, on figuring out how to get more of the $ trickling down to the bottom line. good questions and i did my best at answering them in the very small amount of time available.
i will say though, if you aren’t making enough money, you basically have two solutions-
1.) raise your prices
2.) lower your costs
the question on how to figure out how much it costs you to make something and how to go about pricing your work was basically answered by saying there are no shortcuts to this. list out your labor and materials, supplies on each item and each step of the process, do time studies, then extrapolate and do the math. this will give you your direct cost of goods. then there is the even trickier and more elusive overhead costs (not to mention the profit you are looking to earn). you also need to figure out what the market will bear- basically, it’s a numbers game and it will serve you well to know your costs. otherwise, one should not bother with having a business. better to keep it a hobby and enjoy!
i didn’t take lots of photos but here are a few of the booth before it got too chaotic-

-plus i got to meet several online friends in person-one in particular you may also know-what a treat! she (Kristin LaFlamme) also has done a great job reporting on the show from the perspective of a first time attendee. this is about all i can manage right now so will continue going backwards from here….later.