Bible Felt, Saved From The Dump

November 6th, 2016


I pulled the pail filled with recyclables out of the back of the car.  Jon took the bundle of cardboard. By the time I got back to the car, Bob, who works at the dump, had already emptied the garbage pail.  He went to get a dog biscuit for Fate and asked me if I ever used felt in my work.

“I have two boxes of pieces of felt” he said.

Now I don’t usually use felt in my work, and told him so, but I was also curious  to see what he had put aside for me instead of tossing it in the trash.

The box was marked Large Bible Story File /Box One of Two.   It was not what I expected and when I opened it up I could hardly believe what I was seeing.    Angels and frogs and lions and donkeys and trees.   Men and women dressed in robes, Egyptian statues, tombstones, crowns, tents, stone structures  and images that, well, I guess you have to know the  Bible story in order for them to make sense.

Basically a treasure chest (two really) of inspiration that set my mind spinning.

Do I know how I’ll use these?  I have an idea.  What first comes to mind is using them on my large wall hangings, that I make from old quilts.  How else will I use them?  I have no idea, not at the moment, but I know something new will come of them.

I don’t think I ever talked to Bob about my work, so I certainly didn’t expect him to be saving something like this for me. But I’m so glad he did.   Makes me wonder if Bob knows all his customers better than we know him and often saves things for them instead of throwing them out.  Somehow, I wouldn’t doubt it.





What Goes On In The Woodshed

November 6th, 2016

When we first moved into our house we had plans of making the woodshed into a bedroom that  would look out into the back yard.  But that never happened and now the woodshed is what it has always been, a place for us to store our wood.

Packed almost to the rafters with our winters firewood, it’s easy for Minnie  to get up into it and sleep on the landing and what is the ceiling of our laundry kitchen and bathroom and laundryroom.

The woodshed was traditionally Flo’s domain, but yesterday we heard what sound like someone throwing things against the walls of the house then the screams and screeches of a cat fight.

When, after a while, neither cat appeared on the back porch, I climbed to the top of  the wood pile to make sure no one was hurt.

I took a video of what I found.

“Red”? A New Quilt

November 4th, 2016


Focus, focus, it’s been so hard for me to focus.  Yesterday, as sometimes happens, my day was eaten up by things other than my work.   I got caught up in money and paperwork, things that needed to be done Now!  I didn’t get into my studio until 5pm…



But when I did something special happened and the quilt I started working on Monday (in the photo’s above)  came in to focus. I only worked for an hour more, but all the anxieties of the day melted away as I sewed small scraps of fabric together making squares that would fit into the quilt.



The red makes it a little hard to photograph.  There are actually more shades of red than you can see in the photo.

Today I did some more…


And when I left the studio the quilt looked like this….


I’m pretty happy with it.  I’ll give it the space of the weekend, and on Monday I’ll see if it needs anything else.

This quilt is one of five that I’m making for someone.  They will be Christmas presents, so there will be four more between now and December.

I’m thinking of calling this quilt Red, but that too can change by Monday.

Gray Hen, A Video

November 4th, 2016

I Have Some Potholders For Sale

November 3rd, 2016

“Books” Sold

I have a few potholders for sale.  Books is part of my Back Porch Series.  I was originally inspired to make  this drawing when I saw Flo sitting in the crate on the back porch with one of the hens on the top of it.

Each of my stitched potholders are individually drawn by me on my sewing machine.   Books is $25 + $5 shipping.

Intuitive Potholders

Intuitive Potholders Top and Bottom Two Potholders Sold.  Middle Two Still Available.

Like my quilts, all my potholders are unique.  They are intuitive, meaning I don’t plan them and trust my instincts, sewing pieces of fabric together, without knowing what the finished potholder will look like till it’s done.  It’s about me trusting myself to create something  beautiful using my own intuition, not anyone else’s rules or ideas.

My Intuitive Potholders are $15 each + $5 shipping for 1-2 and $7 shipping for three or more.

If you’re interested in any of my potholders, you can email me at  I take check and paypal.


November Back Porch

November 3rd, 2016


It’s a dreary, rainy  November day.  Minnie and the hens are hanging out on the back porch keeping dry together.

You can see a video of Fanny itching a scratch  in the the video just to the right.

I Read Jon’s New Book “Talking To Animals” This Weekend

November 2nd, 2016


When I first met Jon, he handed me a galley of his book, A Good Dog, and asked me to read it and let him know what I thought.

A life long reader and lover of books, I was excited at the idea of reading a book before it was published and getting to talk to the author about it.   I remember being shocked that he had put Orson down, although, because of the way he wrote about it, I completely understood why he did it.  I also thought he was very brave to be so open about it.  I could remember thinking that I’d be terrified to do such a thing.

That was many books ago and since then I’ve read all of Jon’s books as he writes them.

When we were just friends and I was working out of the Studio Barn on Old Bedlam Farm, he would knock on the door, (he still knocks on my studio door) and hand me copies of a chapter.  I’d take the chapter to my pink chair, sit down and read.  Then I’d tell him what I liked about it, how it made me feel or the thoughts it provoked.

I didn’t care about grammar or spelling, (it was usually a first draft) and only later in our relationship, when I knew the animals he was writing about would I tell him of  any kind of corrections to things like names or dates.  (Jon and I  are careful to have good boundaries around our work.)

But that pattern of reading Jon’s chapters as he writes them has changed.  When he was writing Talking to Animals I only read one of two of the chapters.   I’m not sure why it’s changed.  Maybe he trusts himself more or  it’s that now he has a professional freelance editor who  he shows his chapters to.

Whatever the reason, I have to say I enjoyed reading the galley of Talking to Animals, as a whole book, without knowing what would be in it.

It’s easy to get too close to any work of art and not be able to “see” it anymore.  And I think that would sometimes happen with me and Jon’s books.

So this weekend I picked up a galley of  Talking to Animals and read it all for the first time.   I was excited to read it, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Although I did have some expectations.  For some reason, even though it’s not the way Jon’s writes or thinks, I had the idea that it would be more of a “How To” book.  Of course, as I read the book, I knew that expectation made no sense.  Even Jon’s books about training dogs are not written that way.

What I did get from the book was an overall conviction of how important it is, not just for pets and animal owners and their animals, but for all animals on the earth,  for us, human beings, to really understand animals, how they live and what they need.

As with Jon’s other books,  Talking to Animals is told through stories.  True stories from Jon’s experience with animals.  And it speaks of communicating with them through images and intentions as well as food and repetition.   And about how to listen and hear them.  Through Jon’s experiences the reader gets to see how it all works.

The book makes clear, that the importance of communicating with animals is not so much to get them to do what we want them to do (although this is often crucial in whether or not we can all live together) but so that we can understand each other  enough to make it possible for us to all live in the same home, on the same street, in the same neighborhood, on the same earth.

Jon has written a lot about the Carriage Horses in NYC and I’ve read everything he has written about them.  But his chapter Saving the Animals has a freshness to it.  He uses the conflict to  speak directly to the idea of understanding, listening and talking to animals.

“It’s about an attitude of the heart.  The animals need us.  Their most elemental right is the right to survive on the earth, and our most elemental task is to understand them well enough to know how to make that happen. 

If we ask them, they will tell us”

Over all I found the book beautiful.  The stories are strung together with the gentleness and honesty, decision making, thoughtfulness and love that Jon brings to his life with animals.

And I’m drawn to the idea that words and language may be the least effective ways of communicating with our animals.

It makes sense, since they understand so few of them and we rely on them so much.

It’s not just about them understanding us, but us understanding them and their needs and how they communicate.  And since we’re the ones with most of the power, it’s our responsibility to do right by them.  For their sake and ours.

I have 4 tote bags and 10 potholders that I’m giving to Connie at Battenkill Books to give away, by her means of distribution, to people who preorder Talking To Animals.   Connie’s also giving away an Indie Books tote bag to everyone who preorders  the book.   So you’re sure to get something for free when you preorder Jon’s book even if it isn’t one of my totes or  potholders.

You can preorder Talking to Animals, by Jon Kat here, on the Battenkill Books website or by calling  Battenkill books at 518 677-2515.





Rain Quilt All Done

November 1st, 2016


My Rain quilt is all done and ready to be shipped to her new home.


This is the back.  I used the last piece of fabric from the Elephant material that I had.  It’s that small piece of black with the flower on it.  What looks in the photo like white fabric is actually a small brown flowered print.  It works with the browns in the large pieces of blues.

And that red floral, well, I just wanted to spice it up a bit.

Rain Quilt is sold.

My Trip To India. The Shock Of Reality

November 1st, 2016
One of the girls sewing at the Women's Interlink Foundation in Kolkata, India

One of the girls sewing at the Women’s Interlink Foundation in Kolkata, India

I wake up almost every night, thinking about going to India.   During these months before the trip, I’m slowly getting done the things I need to in order to make it happen.  Yesterday I deposited $51 more dollars into my trip fund from Susie and Sandy.   I hear a dollar can do a lot in India.

I’ve been reading books about India and sex trafficking. Half the Sky by   Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn is filled with the realities of the successes and limitations of what can be done to help women and girls around the world to become independent and safe.  I started to read one novel then put it down.    I felt as if I knew the story already.  I didn’t have the heart to read it again.

Then I saw a picture of one of the girls  sewing at the Women’s Interlink Foundation,  (maybe one of the girls I’ll be teaching to make potholders in February) on Dahn Gandell’s facebook page.

I loved the photo of her sewing with the paintings on the wall behind her (if you’re wondering about the swastika it’s an ancient symbol found in many different cultures and  in Sanskrit means “all is well” ) it seems  such a healthy, safe and happy environment and the girl looks so  intent on her work.

I wanted to write about her, I wanted to know her name.

And when Dahn wrote me back and said they don’t give out the girls name for safety reasons, it hit me.  Somehow, even though I  know that his young woman was a victim of abuse, of sex trafficking, somehow I kept her image separate in my mind from the stories I had read.

I guess it was just too hard for me to imagine.  That the horrors I read about actually happened to this girl, sitting at her sewing machine, looking  to me like she’s in a Home Ec class.

It’s a big leap for my mind to make.  A leap I think my mind would rather not have to make.   The abstract suddenly became real.

I have a feeling this is going to happen to me again and again.  This shock of reality.  And when I actually do get to Kolkata, it will continue to happen, until I know it so well, until I embody it.  Maybe that can really only come  through the actual experience of being there and meeting and working with  girls and other people involved.

I’ve thought a lot about the practical parts of this trip, but now as much about the emotional.  I suppose the reading I’m doing is a part of that, since the stories fill me with emotion.  But  I don’t think I can really prepare for the emotional part of the journey.  It’s like trying to prepare for death.     How can I prepare for something  emotionally when I don’t  know what I’ll be experiencing and  feeling.

What I do know is that I’m certain that this trip and teaching  is something I want to do.  And I’m really eager to  discover all the different aspects of it.  To learn what I can and help when and how I can.

You can read more about the Women’s Interlink Foundation here.   You can also see a quick video about  the  Key to Freedom program which created a platform to help sell the items the women make here.

Hens in the Sheep Shed

October 31st, 2016


The hens found their way into the sheep shed this afternoon.  There must have been something good to eat in there, because they were pecking around for a while.