Hope in the Flowers at Blue Star

August 16th, 2015
Mithra and Jon

Mithra and Jon in the garden

We spent more time with the humans at Blue Star Equiculture today that the horses.  After a spontaneous swim in the river we met Mithra in the Blue Star Garden he planted.

We tasted tomatoes, so many different, delicious varieties.   Mithra showed us one of the first sunflowers blooming,  most of its petals still folded in on itself, creating what looked like a hand making a peace sign.  And his greatest pride, a purple stingbean, that a 7 year old girl said tasted better than cotton candy.

Mithra is a beautiful soul who wants to change the way people farm, starting with healthy soil.   He told us he want’s to go back to Sri Lanka, where he’s from, and start a Soil Revolution.  Witnessing his passion and hearing his very practical plans, I don’t doubt that he can do it.




My Sheep Deb

August 16th, 2015


My sheep Deb is named after our friend Deb, who watches the animals when we go away.   Deb was one of Ma’s twins. Her bother Jake, was never healthy and didn’t survive long after his birth.   Our sheep Ma died sometime after that.

Deb, now over a year old is so much like Ma.  Yesterday I saw her out in the pasture  grazing by herself, something Ma often did.   And Deb’s big.  Bigger than the other lambs who are both wethers.  Deb’s father was a Cheviot and her mother a mix with some Border Leicester.   This year I can see  a touch of gray in her fleece, not the creamy white from her first shearing.  I think she has a pretty face, her features softer than the Cheviots.  She’s messy like Ma too.   Always getting brambles stuck to her face, last year her fleece was hellish to skirt, filled with all kinds of sticky seeds, even more than the other sheep.    I’ll be shearing the sheep again in October. It will be interesting to see how her yarn turns out.

Deb can be loud too, she came into the world baaing and in a way hasn’t stopped.  In the past few days, she’s taken up casing Fate when she’s herding along with Suzy and  Zelda.   But she generally has a gentle nature, much like her Ma.

Many Goddesses

August 14th, 2015


I opened my Goddess book and started stitching what I saw there with my own slant on it all.   I know I was inspire by the video All Creative Works Build on What Came Before…. Which is truly amazing and made me smile and want to dance with the goddess.

If you haven’t seen it already,  or if you want to see it again, click here.

goddesses detail 2


Lunch with Carol and Kim

August 14th, 2015
Carol and Kim

Carol and Kim

Carol Law Conklin and I have been trying to have lunch together since the Bedlam Farm Open House in June.  Today we sat eating outside at the Round House Cafe and Kim McMillan, on her lunch break from the Co-op,  joined us.  Carol and Kim got to know each other because they both had their work in the June exhibit in my School House Studio.   And in October they’ll both have their work there again.  Carol’s has a show at the Saratoga Arts Council right now and is always making more of her beautiful batiks.  You can see some of them on her website Amity Farm Batiks.   Kim will have some of her new  hand bags.

Kim's new bag.

Kim’s latest  handbag





My River is Flowing….

August 13th, 2015

old guys rule

I finished tacking the third quilt  that I made from Gary’s t shirts today.   I’m learning something about working with  knit fabrics.  I don’t use pins,  my sewing machine has a “knit” setting so I don’t have to use any interfacing either.  I also didn’t leave the front of the quilt hanging on my wall this time, as I usually do with my quilts.  I know it stretched the fabric our of shape on last two I made.  They came out well, but this one is has less puckering in the corners and edges.  And It’s just getting easier for me to sew the knits, because now I have much more experience.

I’m going to make one or two more quilts from Gary’s shirts in the next couple of months.  But tomorrow I’m looking forward to starting something new.  I have an idea for potholders I want to try,  then there’s my quilt Back and Back idea.  And I want to start another large drawing on fabric, like my “Intuition Goddess Quilt”.  Guess I’ll have to come up with a name for that one.  It feels good to have so many ideas brewing.  My river is flowing…..

old guys rule back

The Ritual of Sheep Herding

August 13th, 2015

Sheepherding with sky

One afternoon, I looked out the window and thought about  how much Jon must love to herd the sheep.  It was 90 degrees and the black flies were relentless, the last thing I wanted to do was stand in the middle of a field training a border collie puppy to run around sheep.

But no matter what the weather, rain, heat, beautiful breezes, Jon is out there at least twice a day yelling “Come By” and “Away” as Fate circles the sheep, mostly lies down when told, then chases Red in his grand out runs.

I think of sheep herding as being similar to weaving.  It’s something humans have been doing for thousands of years.  There’s no longer a need for either one in our society, but we’re still drawn to doing them.  They fulfill us in a way that feeds our soul.  It’s believed that weaving was once a religious practice which invited Spirit and taught of life, death and afterlife.  When I first started weaving I remember that it made me feel like I was connected to something bigger than myself.

So as much as I don’t want to do it, I understand Jon’s love of sheep herding.  And it seems to me, twice a day, there’s an ancient ritual going on in our pasture.  One where a man is in his natural environment, communicating, once again, with his fellow animals and mother earth.

Fate, Becoming a Great Studio Dog

August 12th, 2015

Fate in my studio

Fate is becoming a pretty great studio dog.   For the most part, she’s pretty good about staying off my quilts when I’m working on them and they’re laid out on the floor.  I think it’s true that dogs know what we want.  This is something I won’t compromise on and Fate seems to get that.  At some point during the morning she’ll come over to me and just want to snuggle.  So we snuggle for a while then I put her in her crate, where she falls right  to sleep.

She knows Jon’s ringtone and whenever he calls or texts me, she stops chewing on her bone, or wakes up  and runs to the door.  Often when Jon calls me in my studio it’s to tell me lunch is ready or he wants me to read his latest blog before posting it.  Fate knows I may be leaving the studio and she wants to come along.

In the afternoon, she likes to play or sleep in the yard.  Depending on what I’m working on or how crazy she is that day, I’ll hand her off to Jon.  She loves to sleep in his office with Red while Jon works.

So we’ve gotten to a good place.  We have our routines and are getting to know each other.   And as much as she loves to herd sheep, she also seems to like our morning ritual.    When I leave the house and saying Fate, lets go to work,  she follows me out to my studio,   much like Frieda used to.

Burdock and Shearing

August 12th, 2015

Zelda, Queen of my flock

I cut down five or six burdock plants that were growing in the pasture.  They were just starting to sprout their velcro-like buds, the ones that get stuck in the sheep’s wool and torture me when it come time to skirt their  fleeces.  I’m sure there’s more out there, I know I’ll never get them all.  I pulled some beggar ticks from Fanny’s mane too.  These are tiny, conical  seeds not as difficult to remove as burdock, but still a nuisance.  Right now, the sheep’s wool is pretty clean,  but I know as the end of summer comes, so do all the sticky seeds.    We might close up the back pasture, where most of the brambles are  if I start to  see a lot of seeds in their coats.   I don’t want to repeat last fall shearing where I spent many more hours than usual separating seeds from wool, getting it ready for the mill.

Gary’s Quilt….Front and Back

August 11th, 2015
The Front of "Gary's Quilt"

The Front of “Gary’s Quilt”

I finished the front of  Gary’s quilt late this afternoon.  But I wasn’t ready to stop.  I had an urge to work on the back of the quilt.

The back of "Gary's Quilt"

The back of “Gary’s Quilt”

For some reason, I still design the backs of my quilts the way I used to before visiting Gee’s Bend.  That is, I  lay out all the fabric first then sew it together.   Now I sew each piece as I go, not knowing what the final design will look like till it’s done.  This process takes trust in my intuitions and abilities.  I’ve been making my quilts this way for over a year, but today was the first time I used the same process when making the back of the quilt.

I think I was still using my old process to make the backs because I  see the back as not as important. Also, I’m just trying to get a piece of fabric that’s the right size and that  works with the front of the quilt.  Often, I’ll use just two big pieces of fabric sewn together.  Because it’s the back of the quilt.

But there have been times when I’ve designed a quilt back and really liked the way it looked.   I’ve actually had people tell me they  like the back of one of  my quilts better than the front.  A backhanded compliment for sure, but I understand what they mean.

I think part of the reason I had such an itch to make the back of Gary’s quilt was because I was dying to get my hands on some fabric with a pattern on it.  Except for the words and images on the Tshirts, most of the fabric is solid colors.  The quilts are bold and graphic, but I was craving pattern and texture.

The big “B” is from one of the Tshirts. (Brooklyn Dodgers) That’s where I began and as I kept sewing the pieces of fabric together I was getting more and more excited.  I just loved the way it looked.

The other thing about making the backs of quilts, is that I feel under less pressure when I making them.  Because they’re just the back, I’m more relaxed.  The way I think about the back, when I’m making it  is completely different than the way I think about the front.  I can’t really explain it, but my brain isn’t doing the same thing when I’m working on the back of the quilt as when I’m working on the front.

So I got this idea to make a series of quilts that are all backs.   Two backs on one quilt.  I’m not sure if one of them will become the front if I do this.  Or if when I make the back then I’ll try to make a back for the back of the quilt.  Jon said I was making his head spin when I tried to explain it to him.  And my head is spinning a bit too.  It raises a lot of questions for me.   I keep thinking I’m going to have to trick myself into believing I’m making the back to a quilt that doesn’t exist.

I probably won’t be able to try making a quilt with two backs until next week, so I’m going to try not to think about it too much.  Best to just let it happen when I’m ready to make one.  Because making the backs of my quilts are inherently about not thinking so much, little pressure and ease.

Herding Sheep

August 11th, 2015

herding sheep

Jon herding the sheep with Red and Fate this afternoon.