Monday, August 30, 2010

Play Day

I really needed a play day.  My brain has been taxed.  I have spent the last couple of weeks writing patterns.  I still have a few to write, but those can wait.  I need a fun day.  I had refrained from dyeing fabric while waiting to tape The Quilt Show.  I always end up with dye on my hands, no matter how careful I am .  I didn't think that would look good on camera.  So the show is done and I've been itching to put some color on fabric.  My inspiration has been this group of fabrics that I bought at the Quilt Odyssey show this summer.  I love these colors.
I had 3 1/2 yds of one PFD fabric and some smaller pieces of some other PFD fabrics.  I also found an apron at Target that was 100% cotton and I had  a PFD t-shirt that I had bought when I was at Pro Chem.  I also decided to  play around with dyeing some threads.  I like to use these plastic rods from my kids' K'nex.  Aren't I glad that I decided to save them for potential grandchildren and now they have been repurposed. 

To limit the amount of dye that ends up on my hands, I like to use plastic baggies.  If I want a mottled look, I just put in the fabric, pour in the dye mixture, then the soda ash solution and I leave it.  If I want a more solid look, I mush, mush, mush it.

Ta dah - the results:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Torah Cover Project - The End

The Torah coves have been delivered.  A 2 hour drive to Easton, MD with husband and dog.  Easton is a quaint town on the Eastern shore of Maryland.  An artsy town with lots of little shops and restaurants.  I googled pet friendly restaurants and there were many to choose from.  We had a great lunch outdoors at Mason's.  One of us had to have crab cakes.  And they were yummy.
The soon to be retired Torah covers

We headed over to Temple B'Nai Israel after lunch.  I presented the 3 covers to Rabbi Peter Hyman and the temple member who made this all possible, Vicki Zuckerman.  And the reason that I do commissions like these happened next - the thrill in their eyes and their words upon  seeing the finished product.  They loved them and thought they looked so much better in person.  Everyone had their own favorite.
The new Torah covers created by me

I'll be headed back to Easton in October for their formal dedication.  It will be a wonderful evening - getting to see the congregation's  response, meeting the couple that provided the financial support for the project and seeing the Torah covers in their place of honor.

I have to say that it is an honor for me to have my work in such a holy place for many years to come.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

AAQI and Bandywine Valley Quilt Guild

AAQI is the acronym for Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.  It was started by a wonderful quilter named Ami Simms whose mother was afflicted with this heart breaking disease.  Ami made it her mission to raise funds for research while educating people about Alzheimer's.  Her modus operandi was to use something she was very familiar with - quilts!

"Leaving Us"
I got involved when there was a call for quilts for a traveling exhibit that she was putting together.  My Dad died in 2000 and had Alzheimer's.  I was thrilled that my quilt, "Leaving Us" was not only chosen, but was one of the quilts that was used over and over on promotional material.  The exhibit is now hanging in the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.  It is the last venue for this traveling group of quilts and it will be coming home at the end of the year. Over 223,000 people have seen these quilts in their 3 years of traveling all around the USA.
Ami and her team of volunteers has raised over $400,000 for research.  One of the ways that she does it is to have internet quilt auctions.  They are called Priority quilts because they have to fit inside of a US Mail Priority envelope.  Quilters all over the world make and donate these quilts.  There is a monthly auction the fist 10 days of each month and there is also a selections of quilts that you can purchase at any time.  For a complete overview go to .

This month I was a presenter at The Brandywine Valley Quilt Guild that meets in Wilmington, DE.  And boy was I surprised that as a guild, they had a challenge to make these Priority Alzheimer Quilts and it was unveiled during my visit.  They even used my quilt on their promotional material.  The challenge had a great response - close to 30 participants. 
Most of the BVQ's Challenge Quilts

Then I was so honored when I was asked to choose my favorite, by the organizer of the challenge, Jody Beitzel,  and present an award. They called it The Speaker's Award.  It was a very difficult decision, because so many of the quilts were made from the heart and had so much meaning to them.   Congratulations to Barbara Gross and her amazing quilt and all of the members of this generous and talented guild.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wool Folk Art

I have been procrastinating updating my website.  It's not that I do it myself.  I have a wonderful, patient woman that does it for me, but it means getting all of the information together.  All of the photos, all of the dates, all of the changes that I want to make. But with !Quilt Fiesta! and my upcoming appearance on The Quilt Show, I thought it should be up to date for the throngs of readers that would be drawn to find out about me!  (Ha ha)

My husband has taken over my pattern department.  He has been the shipping department for a while.  Now he is organizing and printing them.  With the website update, he thinks that I should include all of the patterns that I ever designed. This includes my wool folk art patterns.   Many people don't know that I designed these other patterns in addition to my OyVey! patterns.  In the early part of the 2000's, I taught at this wonderful quilt shop owned by Cyndi Hershey in Montgomeryville, PA called The Country Quilt Shop.  I found a niche teaching primitive types of quilting and stitchery.  I designed a line of wool folk art patterns that I called Mother Hen Productions.  We sold them at the shop and were having a great run.  Unfortunately that ended when Cyndi sold the shop to a new owner. It became a different place to work and it was time for me to move on. 

Wool Pumpkin Pillow
So my new pattern department manager thought this would be a great time to resurrect them.  Folk art IS really timeless.  The funny thing is that in bringing these patterns and almost patterns back, I've had to write and re-write some of them.  Hey, I tell my new employee, I thought  you were supposed to be working for me.  Why are you giving me work to do?  But I am thankful that he is getting me organized.  I do need someone to organize me.

I really need a team to organize me.  All I want to do is sew. 

So now all of the wool patterns are available on my website and there are kits for some of them.  Can I get back to sewing now?

Speaking of wool, I have to share with you a book that is coming out in November.  It's called Pennies From Heaven.  My friend from The County Quilt Shop, Gretchen Gibbons, wrote it.  If you love working with wool, you'll love this book.  I hadn't spoken to Gretchen in quite a while.  It was such a coincidence then that both of our book proposals went to committee at Martingale at the same time.  We've been in touch frequently as we have gone through the publishing process together.  I've seen her first proof and the book is gorgeous.

You can pre-order it from

To make a short story long, my website is now up to date with all my new work,  all my new patterns and an updated list of where my quilts have been.  Holly Knott is my wonderful webmaster and did all of the work.  The best thing about Holly is that she is a quilter too.  She understands the ins and outs of structuring a website for another quilter, although she does websites for anyone. I also envy her relationship with her mother.  Her mother is also an artist and they work together sometimes.  They now have a shop on Etsy with some beautiful items.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Found Surprise

I am a loser.  Not in the personality sense, but in the "I can never find anything way".  I always caution people about giving me things.  I warn them that I probably won't be able to find it when it is needed.  So they usually say that they will just keep.  I like it that way.  It took me years to discover that that was the best way to deal with my loser issues.

Today, of course, yet again, I couldn't find an OyVey! Quilt that I made a while ago, but wanted to re-photograph for a pattern cover.  I looked everywhere.  I finally found a bin to look in that I hadn't opened in a while, but it wasn't there.  Instead I found some pieces that I had made a few years ago.  I stowed them away in the bin when I was trying to de-clutter my studio.  In that bin was a piece that surprised me that I made in a workshop in 2006 with Susan Shie. The class was about diary painting on fabric.  It turns out that I really like it.  I loved her class.  The theme we chose for the piece was doorways.  As I read my writing, I surprised myself.  Did I write all of  that?
No, I still have not found that piece I was looking for.  I'll find it one day when I am looking for something else.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Quilt Show

I have a secret that I have been keeping for several months.  I wasn't told to keep it a secret, but I guess I was afraid if I shared it with the world at large that it would disappear.  I was invited to be a guest on The Quilt Show.  It's an internet subscription quilting show with two of the quilting world's superstars - Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  They saw my upcoming book, Quilt Fiesta, at the Spring wholesale quilt market.  In addition to my quilt inspired by Mexican tiles, they also were very interested in my OyVey! Quilt Designs and Judaic patterns.  Alex's son had recently married a Jewish woman who was born in Israel and she had a keen interest in what the quilting wold had to offer for the Jewish community.

Two of my wonderful friends flew out to Boulder Colorado, the day before the taping, with me from Philly to help.  Thank goodness for friends.

We stopped at the studio first to unpack my quilts. Torah covers and demo items  THEY HAD A SHELF WITH MY NAME ON IT!  I know it's only a paper label on a wire rack shelf, but it was really exciting to see mt name.  Reality.

We returned the next day for the taping.  I met some of the people that I had talked with on the phone.  I met Alex and Ricky.  And I met Darra  Williamson.  They tape 2 shows in one day.  Darra was the morning guest who wrote a book with Christine Porter about a modernized version of 12 months in the life of Sunbonnet Sue.  It was a good idea to watch her throughout the process.  She was a great role model.  You can see some of her quilts behind her on the set.

The audience of 40 people were the same for both the morning and afternoon taping.  Prior to both tapings, they "taught" the audience how to clap and laugh and show intense interest.  The set had 3 areas for different segments.  Most of the audience was local.  At the lunch break, they changed their clothes and then took different seats in the audience. 

The main demo for my show was about the secondary patterns formed where the corners of my "Mexican tiles" came together.  I put in a lot of time making a low tech, medium tech and high teach version of how to visualize this.  I brought every single quilt that was in the book.  I brought all of the Torah covers I had ever made.  And all the quilts from patterns that I had ever written.  To say I was prepared was an understatement.  The only thing I didn't know was how it was going to be presented and what we were going to use.  I had a brief conversation with Alex and Ricky during the morning.

But we didn't get specific.  The audience went to lunch.  The crew had lunch.  We all had lunch.  It was 2PM and I still didn't know what we were going to use.  To say I was nervous was an understatement.  But then it was my turn.  Ricky, Alex and I chose the quilts to be hung on the set.  We talked about the opening segment.  We talked about an opening and then about what to say to segue way into the next segment.  And then it was time.  My buddies were ready in the audience in the Princess chairs.
We filmed 4 segments and an after the show segment.  We started taping around 2:30 and went until 5:30.  Before each segment, we talked about what we were going to do and I just followed their lead.  Ricky and Alex were just awesome and definitely knew what they were doing.  We had a wonderful producer, Shelly Heesacker, who led us in and out of every segment, among many other things. (She is also a producer for Oprah and Dr. Phil.)  I started with a pit in my stomach that started at the base of my chin that slowly disappeared over the course of the afternoon.  It is still an unreal experience and my feet still have not touched the ground.

If you want to see a little bit of the fist 4 shows they taped go to The Quilt Show blog and scroll down to the Aug 10th posting.    After they finish taping this season and editing the shows, they will decide the order in which the shows will be aired in 2011.  Then we'll know when  it's my turn.  I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Good Bye Concentricity!

  The inspiration for "Concentricity" was found walking the sidewalks of St Augustine, FL.  Every once in a while, there would be these tiles.  They really struck me because I love circles in circles.  I used whatever beautiful fabric that I could find.  Some had a little bit of glitz to them.  I used silk, cotton, lame and some types of metallics.  They were carefully fused to each other.  Careful is the operative word, because many of these fabrics would melt if the ion was too hot.  I hand stitched them to each other with all kinds of beautiful threads. The name comes from these concentric circles.

So, why am I saying good bye?  "Concentricity" is leaving home for one year of travelling.  It was accepted into a special exhibit, titled "Tactile Architecture", sponsored by the International Quilt Association (IQA).  The first stop is their show in Houston.  This is one of the most prestigious quilt shows.  I am honored to have a quilt exhibited there.  It will then spend the rest of the year traveling to their other shows.  

So, if you see "Concentricity", say hi.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Trip To Lancaster County

When I am creating a quilt, it starts with an idea.  Next comes the color choices and then usually the fabric.  I have to say that I hardly ever have the entire quilt designed before I start.  The quilt evolves as I piece it together.  So of course then I get to the point where I NEED a certain type of fabric that I don't have on my shelves.

The dilemma then becomes where to go.  There are no fabric stores around the corner.  It becomes a road trip.  But I want to make sure that the odds are good that wherever I go I will find what I need.  Quilt shops have the personalities of their fabric buyers.  If I need a certain type of fabric, I go to a certain store.  The project I am working on is made from batik fabrics.    I decide to head out to Burkholders out in Lancaster County - a mere 1 1/2 hrs away.  My  traveling companions are up for a road trip, so my husband and Bailey pile into the car.

We head out to the quilt shop via the PA Turnpike.  This shop did not disappoint.  There was recently a bit of a change in ownership.  But I have to tell you that the shelves were packed.  There was over a 30ft long aisle filled with batiks.  If I couldn't find something here.  The batiks were $7.99/yd and if you are a guild member they give you a 12% discount.  I found several options and bought them all.  Yipppeee!  Success!!

Then we headed for lunch at this nearby luncheonette, where the food is good and cheap.  And we were able to eat outside at their picnic tables with our chow hound.

We decided to mosey on home via a country road to get our fill of farm scenery and stop at farmstands for locally grown produce for our dinner.  The sky was so blue and there was corn growing as far as the eye could see.  You can't even count the number of farms.  Barns and silos everywhere dotting the countryside.

Maybe not a farm, but I couldn't resist.

How could this not make you smile?
A wagon full of canteloupes with 2 adorable Amish girls hiding behind it.  The canteloupe was as sweet as candy.

Border Collie pups or watermelons?


We got the BEST corn from this stand.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yippeeee, A New Pattern

Finally, a new OyVey! Quilt Designs pattern.  This pattern has been on the drawing board for about 2 years.  It has been on my website with a caption of "Coming Soon".The covers were printed and so were the foundation paper pieced patterns that I had printed on newsprint.  What took me so long?  Procrastination and other things just got in the way.  So here I present, Starry, Starry Night - a Dreidelrunner:
I am excited about this pattern, because it is the first time that I know of, that a Jewish star has been presented as an easy to piece, foundation pattern.  You can make it as a table runner or as a wall hanging.  Thank you to all of you who so patiently waited.