in excellent company

This coming July, I will participate in a textile invitational at Warm Springs Gallery, here in Charlottesville. The title for the exhibit is Disintegration and Repair and my work will be displayed alongside work by five fantastic fiber artists; Kathryn Clark, Marguerite Gignoux, Karen Henderson, Natalia Margulis, and Barbara Wisnoski. I am beyond thrilled. Not only is this a big event and an honor for me, but it is a big event for our small college town. Owner and curator Barbara Buhr, is  expanding the scope of her already reputable contemporary art gallery by initiating this textile show, with its national and international participants. Here is the exhibition statement:

"Disintegration and Repair, examines the physical, formal and conceptual aspects of cloth's fragility, its tendency to deteriorate, and the human inclination to rebuild and restore. The exhibit speaks of wear and tear, damaged cast-offs and unwanted remnants as metaphors for the evidence of use and the passage of time. The idea of Disintegration and Repair offers artist and viewer the opportunity to reassess the meaning and value of mending and reuse."

True to form I am still working on my pieces for the show (samples of the work in progress is scattered throughout this post). 

The exhibit runs from July 1 - July 31, with an artist reception Friday, July 6, 6 - 8 pm. I would love for you to come for a visit to view the beautiful work on display!

reuse and reclaim

My studio, my house, and my life is overtaken by fabric. Fabric yardage, fabric remnants, fabric scraps. Vintage fabrics, mod fabrics, silly fabrics. Fabrics collected and acquired over decades, lovingly washed, folded, and stored in piles. Fabrics left over from numerous projects and experiments.

Despite a promise to not announce any resolutions for this new year, I hereby declare 2012 the year of no new fabric purchases. Not only will I try not to buy more fabrics, I am also determined to use more of all the wonderful goodies I have on hand.

The last few days I have spent making pillows from fabrics originating from modern fabrics, a wonderful Charlotte, NC, based company that specializes in reselling remnants from furniture corporations and other industries. I am also creating small zip purses, using vintage linen and cotton prints. This new line of work will have its own place in my etsy store, some of the pieces are already listed, more will be added in upcoming weeks.

No promises can be made without caveat. I am running short on silk and wool for eco dyeing. And there may be a need to reorder my house linen fabric for new production work. But other than that I should be all set!

a vermont quilt and wabi-sabi

It is from Vermont, at least that's what I was told when this quilt became mine. It is made from a variety of fabrics, wool, cottons, thin, thick, even some polyester mixed in here and there. It is probably not ancient, but it is still old, or maybe just used often. The true history of the quilt does not matter so much. Somebody made it in log cabin style, lovingly piecing the rectangular shapes to the backing fabric by hand, then throwing in some machine stitching to keep the layers together. Some squares are intact, but most are worn, some of them to shreads. Even the back is tattered and stained.

The quilt from Vermont symbolizes much in my mind. Things, just as life itself has a beginning and an end. They will not last forever. But there is beauty in all its stages, the threadbare parts are just as alluring as the unblemished ones. There is beauty in imperfection.

Inspired by Natalie Chanin and her blog, I recently started reading simply imperfect – revisiting the wabi-sabi house by Robyn Griggs Lawrence. Wabi-sabi is not a straight forward concept, and it is sometimes difficult even for native Japanese to explain what it means. My interpretation is that we should try to limit our possessions to things with meaning and usefulness, to un-clutter our homes and our lives, to find calm and quiet among chaos, and to care for the things we do have to make them last longer. I am not there yet, but the process has begun. One of the more important aspect of wabi-sabi is to enjoy doing things by hand, whether it is washing dishes, or mending a skirt, or making a quilt from scratch.

winter green

I just finished piecing this together this morning. The freshness of these leaf prints echoes the steady snowfall (yet again) outside. The leaves are printed on vintage linen, crisp yet smooth to the touch. I imagine layering it with soft flannel, and backing with dyed cotton. The piece will be hand quilted in white on the white cloth. There will be some kind of edging too, maybe in the palest, faintest shade of green, with more stitching in the same hue... Thinking, planning, and scheming is fun. The final work hardly ever turns out the way first envisioned. But that is fine too...

Our severe winter weather made me think of my wonderful illustrator and artist friend Charlotta from Sydney, Australia, where they right now are in the midst of summer. She recently honored me with the honest scrap award, in which you are supposed to reveal ten things about yourself. Since I received the same award in September (thank you Molly) I will refer back to that post if you want to learn about my secrets. Please visit Charlotta's beutiful blog to find out about hers.

all white

The world is blanketed in snow outside my studio window. Inside I am sifting through my vintage treasure box. Most of its content relates to my family. Every monogram and piece of lace has a history. I come from a line of seamstresses. Not the professional kind, but the kind who sewed, stitched, and embroidered out of necessity and out of joy. Weaving, knitting, quilting, tailoring, crocheting, mending, and altering were my grandmother's and my mother's artistry. Their passion and appreciation were passed on to me. Some of their skills (not all) were as well...

Each time I visit my mom in Sweden, I bring a few more pieces back with me. My promise to her and to myself is that they will be used for a special project, a heirloom of heirlooms of sort. I don't know what shape it will take, when it will be done, or how, but hopefully it will be worthy to pass on to a few more generations.

A few belated thank yous are in order. Gay over at I dreamed I saw, included my geranium sachets in her sweet smelling post this weekend, and Elaine at nestingblog recently featured my queen anne's lace art quilt. Tusen tack! I also want to thank Denise from Hamburg, Germany, (lieblings.weerke) who picked my market tote as one of the items in her beautiful fig post.


May I introduce Madelaine. She is standing guard in our family room, and I just can't take my eyes off her. I have wanted a vintage dress form for ages. Not that I actually sew clothes that often anymore, but I love the dress form's shape and life size presence. I spotted Madelaine on ebay and fell in love. Not only did she look flawless and had all parts intact, but she was made the year I was born! After some intense bidding, possibly involving a little too much money, she became mine.

I think she is even more gracious in person. The linen covered bodice is slightly worn in places, but that only adds to her charm. I wish she could tell me her story. Where has she been? What beautiful clothes was created with her help? There are traces of threads and fabric stuck in her iron wheels, so I know she has been used for real.

Her measurements are 35, 29, 38, and while our chest circumference is almost identical, I am sad to report that my waist and hip measurements are a few inches larger. I look at her and realize that since she has the figure I wish for, she may be the motivation I need to get back into shape.

bundles of joy

I am a sucker for vintage fabrics. Remnants (or even better yardage) of cotton prints from the 50's or the 60's makes me weak in the knees. I spend lots of time tracking these treasures down, and sometimes end up in an online bidding war that forces me to pay way to much for a piece of orange floral print. By now I have stacks piled up in my studio, but there is always room for more...

When my friend Jenny Mitchell of Frecklewonder started offering some of her fabric remnants in her shop I knew I was in luck. I love these prints. They are delightful and whimsical, just waiting to line a purse or partake in my next quilting project.

Jenny's store is a treasure trove for many other things as well. She specializes in vintage clothing, shoes, household items, and children's books, mixed up with some of her own hand crafted work. Her Frecklewonder blog was my inspiration when I first started blogging. She is a skilled photographer and writes about children, work, and daily activities with a great sense of humor and life affirming spunk. To top it all off, her equally wonderful husband Matt is my web guru, who has helped me with my website for ages and never tires of my silly questions about order reports, RedCloth, and slices.

Here are a few of the items currently in the Frecklewonder shop. If you see something you like, hurry over because these finds never last very long.


I know it is not proper to love a bicycle but my birthday gift binnie has earned my unmeasured admiration and affection. This bicycle was made by Raleigh in England in 1937, and I know nothing about her travels and adventures since then, except that someone else loved her enough to give her a name. She has a few new parts, but mostly she is a pre-second-world-war original, and she rides like a dream. No clunks, no wheezing, no squeaks. She has three speeds and old but reliable hand breaks, which is perfect for my short excursions. Most of all she is just plain beautiful! Since my infatuation with Binnie I have been looking for bicycle sources all over the web. Here are a few of my favorite blogs that promote commuting on two wheels in style ; riding pretty, vélo vogue, and chic cyclist.

47 and counting

Today is my birthday. My little guy is feeling much better, which is the greatest gift of all. He is back home playing with the dogs, cracking wry jokes, and delving into his favorite books. He even baked his signature chocolate chip cookies. He will need some additional medical attention for the next few weeks, but we are all hoping for a full recovery. Having a seriously ill child truly makes you reflect on what is important in life. So my birthday promise is to slow down and to live my days more fully, embracing every moment I have with my sons.

My mother and sisters sent me this beautiful necklace by swedish jewelry designer efva attling. Her work is world renowned and I am honored to have one of her pieces. The silver droplet is so sensual and simple. Tusen tack mamma, katta, och ulrika!

My lovely husband and the boys gave me a bicycle, which I will pick out from here. I am thrilled to be able to pedal to the market and the post office without leaving carbon wheel prints. Tonight we are off for a family dinner at duners. Life at 47 is bliss...

folds and foilage

I am leaving you with a snapshot of another project I am working on, this one involving lots of folds and fantastic vintage Irish linen. Prints of leaves will be incorporated at some point as well. Also, I can't resist these freshly sprung japanese maple leaves in my front yard. The color combination is perfect in that strange way that only nature can provide. Anywhere else it would look garish. Chicago is waiting. I'll be back next week with photos, marvels, and impressions.

handkerchief project

A while back I found these wonderful vintage irish linen handkerchiefs. Unused but gracefully aged with occasional spots to prove their heritage. They are sheer, almost transparent, and the linen is just exquisite. Now a few of them will be transformed into a wall hanging, although I am not sure which form it will take just yet...
I printed large geranium leaves in shades of brown and ochre in their centers and have carefully hand pieced them together in long strips. They would look quite lovely as is, used as a room divider or curtain, with lights filtering trough the gauzy material. I am also thinking that they would look fantastic backed by a very coarse nubby linen as a contrast.

This is what I love most about the creative process, the small decisions that need to be made along the way. So challenging and exhilarating at the same time. Stay posted...