Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Wrap Up

I feel very blessed 2008 has been a very productive year filled with wonderful teaching opportunities, travel, family and many creative openings. I finished the year teaching for Amy and Angela at Yellow Bird Art where we made barrel purses using hand dyed wool and embellishments. It was a great creative group and I was fortunate to be invited back in 2009 and 2010. Their store is wonderful and filled with all the fabrics I love. Cathy, Melissa and I vended at our first large show in Atlanta, GA. It was hard work but very successful. Our booth was packed with all the lovely products I like to use. Wool was new to this area but we were delighted with the interest and enthusiasm of all the quilters in the area. My youngest daughter Aimee has become very interested in sewing. As you can imagine her Mom is so excited! We will be collaborating on some new ideas for the website in 2009. One Friday evening Aimee, her friend Linda, Cathy and I went to a lecture in NE Ohio by Carolyn Mazloomi. She is an African American quilt maker and I was fascinated to here her talk about her quilt journey. It has been a year of change as well. Jason has moved away and was not able to join us for the holidays. That was hard but I am sure Wendy was glad to have his extra pair of hands to shovel the 60 plus inches of snow they have had this month. Andrew is in his final year and after studying in to Italy and New York it has been great to have him home for a while. I need to make the most of it as he plans to return to New York City in the summer. Kelly is doing very well and works hard with handicapped adults and in her spare time has produced some amazing knitting projects. Aimee has also become a knitting machine and made quilts and hats for her favorite kids she babysits for. My mom and dad continue to be very productive and supportive with my business and keep me on the straight and narrow. As for Wendy, my sister, I am hoping she can get her head out of the dye pots for a little while to pursue more of her own art in 2009. Folk art Quilts would not be possible without the dedication from Michelle and Cathy. I could not do it with out them and I thank them for all the long hours and thousands of kits they have produced in 2008. I would also like to thank all my customers and friends and wish you all a very creative and healthy New Year! Take care Sue

Friday, December 26, 2008

For the love of color

It was time to take a break from all the digging and take a few moments to enjoy the glimpses of life buried beneath the snow. Soft puffballs sitting atop the rose-hips and clinging to the crabapples. 
Beautiful reds and browns inspired me to get in the dye room and do a little spontaneous dyeing.  A nice worsted weight superwash merino. Soon to be a hat. It will be needed, there is a rumor there is more snow in the forecast.
Of course I could not do just one skein. More to follow later.

Winter Warnings

Up here in the northwest corner of the country we are bracing ourselves yet once again. Winter has barely started and yet we have already had two thirds of our yearly snowfall. I had to get on the snowshoes to create pathways through the garden for all the dogs to get around.  Now that is dedication.
Our black lab-mutt is managing to find joy in the accumulating feet but our old yellow lab is saying enough already!   Let me in!  I think he is not alone.
I hope you are all staying warm and safe in this winter weather.


The snowflakes fell softly, such beautiful delicate little stars. 
We hope you have a season filled with peace, happiness and joy.
Wendy and Sue

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Halong Bay

Our last experience in Vietnam was an over night stay on a junk in the magnificent Halong Bay. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which spreads over 580 sq miles with more that 2,000 pinnacle-shaped lime stone and dolomite outcrops scattered across the area. It is an unbelievable site with isolated caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites. Around the area are many floating villages and many of the residents sail the waters selling goods to the people on the junks. Our junk was very colorful and well equipped with bedroom, bathroom, dinning room and area to sunbath and take in the wonderful views. This was a great way to end our stay before travelling the long distance home to Ohio. I have very fond memories of our trip to Vietnam and cherish the friendships of all the wonderful people who crossed my path. You will all be in my heart for a long time to come. I look forward to planning our next trip to teach. Sue

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Our last part of our trip was in Hanoi and Halong Bay. Hanoi was a bustling city with so many places to see. As we were there for only a couple of days we decided to take a city tour with a local guide. That way we were able to see some of the highlights of the city. One evening Wendy and I decided to walk around the Old Quarter and came across a fabulous store that specialized in cloth from the minority people in Northern Vietnam. There are dozens of different groups who all do the most amazing hand work. Mainly on their clothing using a lot of embroidery, applique and silver colored beads and buttons.

The washed out colors of the old buildings and folk art where very appealing and of course have my creative juices going. We also came across a young man who carved wooden stamps. We spent about an hour sitting at his store front going through large baskets of amazing carvings. We picked out a few for him to carve our names in as a momentum of this special time.

While walking the back streets of many cities we have visited we are always fascinated by the Graffiti. Wendy has taken many photos but I feel this sums up our visit to Vietnam. I will always smile fondly thinking of the millions of motor bikes I encountered on the streets of this friendly country.

I will post tomorrow about our last stop in Halong Bay.

We are very blessed in this country and I have many parts of my life to be really thankful for. I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and special time together with family and friends.

Take care


Friday, November 14, 2008

Hoi An

We took an early flight to the historic town of Hoi An which is located on the north bank of the Thu Bon River in Central Vietnam. What a wonderful contrast to the bustle of HCMC. It was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999. Hoi An is full of long, narrow tube houses, Chinese pagodas and ornate community halls as well as family shrines and a Japanese covered bridge. There is also a very interesting market which we walked through many times. It was a feast for the eyes full of great colors and shapes. One morning Wendy and I got up very early to see all the fishing boats pull in and unload all the fish for the day. There are many tailor shops here where you can have any item of clothing made in 24 hours. It was a fun experience to have clothing made in any style and color. We thought this was a unique way to have your cloth delivered to your store. Just a little different from UPS!

Vietnam manufactures wonderful silk fabrics. We came across a small exhibit of the process of silk making. Here are millions of silk worms that will spin cocoons to be unwound for the manufacture of cloth. It is a fascinating process.

The architecture in Hoi An was wonderful. Wendy and I spent many hours wondering the streets admiring the colors of the buildings and doors. There were many great restaurants and wine bars that were we sat and watched time go by. One night we took a cyclo ride to the Mango Room for dinner. It was an interesting experience.

I will always remember Hoi An for the sea of color, filled with lanterns, fabrics, pottery and buildings. Wouldn't these make wonderful quilts!

My fingers are itching to start a new project. Here in Ohio we are expecting a miserable weekend so I am planning to cuddle up and create all weekend. Hope you all get the opportunity to stitch as well.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Market Day

During our stay in Vietnam we visited many markets. One of the most interesting was the ribbon and button wholesale market in Ho Chi Minh City. I was fascinated by the array of choices along with all the colors of ribbons and trims that were available. Each store was very tiny with masses of merchandise. As you can see the market was full of color and a wonderful place to dig for treasures. I found some great buttons and ribbons to bring home. We were nearing the end of our stay in HCMC and visited a travel agent to book flights to Hoi An then on to Hanoi.

I have very fond memories of this city with its bustling streets, great markets and all the passionate quilters I met. I will treasure the experience for a long time.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Workshop Day Two

We arrived at the store the next day and I was blown away to see everyone creating a new appliqué block. They were hand cutting out shapes from my other quilts and making a new piece to take home to personalize. It really warmed my heart to see them so enthusiastic and not holding back. Thanh was amazed too as she had felt they would need a lot more guidance with the project. I believe the timing was right to introduce them to new techniques and for them to start finding their own creativity. Today's goal was to teach embellishments. We had brought many beads, threads and buttons with us. They loved looking through the bowls and making their own choices. Many thanks to Susan Day from Michael Miller fabrics, Sheila from Renaissance Ribbons, Rings and Things and my students at home who donated generously to the cause. We were able to leave many supplies with them for future projects. I spent about 4 hours on the floor teaching 10 different embroidery stitches along with beading and the use of buttons. It was fascinating to see how easy it was to communicate with hand movements and the use of our eyes. They were just so eager to learn and use all the stitches on their blocks. At the end of the day we pinned up every ones block. Each person shared what they had learned along with why they had chosen certain colors and embellishments. I was amazed at how much knowledge they had translated into their work.

Thanh had suggested that they make a quilt out of all the blocks. Well no quilt is complete with out a label! So I quickly had everyone sign a piece of fabric for the back of the quilt. I can't wait to see the finished quilt.

This experience was a wonderful blessing for me. I could not have thought of a better place to share what I am so passionate about. Many thanks to Wendy and Della for there support and encouragement and to Thanh and the quilters for making this trip so special. We hope to return soon to teach hand dyeing.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Workshop Day One

On the first day of our workshop Wendy, Della and I were greeted at the shop by 20 eager students, all the group leaders with a quilter from each group. They had not done much hand applique and no embellishments. I had two interpreters present to help with the introduction of the class and what I hoped to achieve in the two days. I had taken some of my quilts to share and was amazed at how interested they were in the embellishments and finished product. Thanh explained to me that they had never seen finished quilts other than what they had done themselves so it was good for them to see what they could create. We had taken all the supplies for the workshop. Wendy had hand dyed cotton, wool and velvet along with fun prints, batiks, ribbons, beads and buttons which were donated by some of my students and suppliers. I gave them a choice f three fun folk-art flower patterns and allowed them to choose what ever they wanted for backgrounds and applique. We talked about color selections and Wendy and Della helped them get good contrast in their pieces.

I demonstrated freezer paper templates and spent the day helping with needle turn and wool applique. I was amazed at how eager they were to learn and how much fun they seemed to be having. They were all very good at handwork as they had done so much hand quilting so they took to needle turn very easily.

It was good to see them all working independently yet enjoying this creative time together. I was amazed at the end of day one how much they had accomplished and I was very eager to return to see what day two would bring.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Village Visit

Our taxi driver arrived very early to drive us to the village of Duch Linh where the Organization Vietnam Plus and Vietnam Quilts is based. Wendy and I were going to spend the day visiting area workshops that help the people of rural Vietnam. What an eye opener. It was a few hours drive which was quiet trying at times. Our first visit was to a small home industry that processed cashew nuts. I was amazed to see that everything was done by hand from picking to cracking open the shells to get the nuts out. These wonderful people do tons of cashews each year. I have a much better appreciation for these great nuts! Our next stop was to meet some of the 180 quilters in the area. There are 9 group leaders and each one has about 25 quilters under them. they meet at the group leaders home each day and quilt for 8 hours. They make quilts for Westerners mainly Australian and Japanese clientele. There was no quilting in Vietnam until this program was started 8 years ago by Thanh Truong who has a passion for quilts. It is an income generation project that offers income and employment for rural women which enable these women to remain in their communities and care for their children and families.
They now have two retail stores one in district 1, Ho Chi Minh City and on in Hanoi. It enables them to supply scholarships and books for children to go to school , health education for women, toilets in a number of poor people's houses as well as impregnation of mosquito nets with insecticide.
They are guaranteed 20 days work a month which adds up to one complete queen size quilt and $40.00/ month.
Our last stop was at a local school where Vietnam plus has helped with a weekly program of teeth cleaning. We watched as the whole school came outside and did there weekly routine of brushing and caring for there teeth. It was great to spend time with the kids who were so excited to meet us.
I hope you will join me tomorrow as we meet the quilters in our workshop.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mekong Delta

The second day Wendy and I took a trip to the Mekong Delta. We had a driver and lucky for us we had a guide who could speak good English. It was a wonderful drive south out of the city. We travelled through rural villages and came across many people on there way to the market. On our arrival at the Delta we were taken to our very colorful boat. The unique Mekong Delta consists of 1,740 miles of canals and life on the water has not changed for centuries. There are many floating markets along with homes were people live on the water. This area is full of coconut, mango, longan trees as well as rice paddies as the soil is very fertile due to the rich alluvial soil that flows into the distributaries from neighboring countries. We travelled the waters through many down pours and visited a coconut farm as well as many orchards.

This is the first bridge that had just opened linking the biggest islands. Up to this point the only way around the delta was by boat.

We were treated to an authentic lunch on a local island. This was the main course. It looked rather unfriendly but was delicious!

At the end of the trip we took a small boat ride through the many very small rivers that are part of the water ways. It was wonderful to actually experience the way the local people live on the water. They are very resilient mainly farming to make a living.

Tomorrow I will post about our trip to the village where our quilters live. This was an eye opening experience and really touched my heart.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

First Day In Vietnam

We are home from our travels. I feel very blessed to have been a part of this trip. As I have so many exciting experiences to share with all of you I have decided to post our trip over many days. So please visit daily for the next update. Wendy and I met Della from DellaQ, in Seattle and flew through Taipei to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was an over night flight and 13 hours ahead so we lost nearly half a day. On arrival Wendy and I were blown over by all the traffic which included millions of motorbikes and bicycles carrying many outrages wares. The noise level was also something new. Everyone honking there horns just to let you know they were there, not out of anger or frustration. You would see anything from 4 people on a bike to a complete store. I guess when that is your only mode of transportation you pack it like we would our SUV's! The other amazing site was all the power lines. Throughout our visit I was reminded many times how we take many things for granted. The first night Della took us to the local outdoor market for dinner. It was great we shared a few local dishes of food. We then retired to our hotel for the evening. It was good to get our heads down. Sue