Online Classes Kick-Off Today – No Foolin’ !!

Today, April 1, 2013, we kickoff our 3rd Annual Online Class, co-presented with the Australian version of “Nancy’s Notions,” Judy Hall of Punch With Judy. Judy and I have teamed over previous years to bring you the best in user-friendly education.  Our online classes allow you to work at any time YOU choose, even in your pajamas!  Simply download the lesson which is published online on the 1st of each of the next 6 months.  You do not have to be in front of your computer at any appointed time.

The lessons span from very basic (how to attach the Curve Master) to more advanced (making purses with round bottoms inserted) over the course of the class.  Any level of mastery (or non-mastery) is accommodated in the class.  You do not need any prerequisites other than basic sewing machine familiarity, as we “start at the very beginning…a very good place to start.”

It is not too late to join us!  Go to Judy’s website to sign up:


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To the Ends of the Earth!!

Unbelievable how time flies!  Especially as I get older, and find more interesting things to see and do, time goes too fast to do them all.  Such was the case this year, and I apologize that my blog suffered.  So what happened?…..Yes, I went to the Ends of the Earth…will explain that later.

Some of you know that my “hobby” when I’m not doing the Curve Master tour is spinning.  No, not cycling…making yarn from fiber.  I love all of it, from selecting a fleece right off the sheep or llama or whatever, or choosing a really gorgeous processed hand-dyed roving, and sitting at the wheel rhythmically drafting the fiber into a “singles” (one strand) of yarn and the perhaps plying it into a two- or three-ply yarn.  What do I do with it all?  Well, just like us quilters with fabric, I admire it, stroke it, pet it, and stockpile it!  Sometimes I actually knit with it, and here is where my story advances.

I enjoy the company of a few knitters once a week when I am home from my gypsy travels.  One of these lovely ladies, Ann, was turning 70 in May and decided she was going to walk the 500-mile Camino de Santiago to achieve her 50-year dream and celebrate her birthday watching the botafumerio .  (Don’t worry if you don’t already know what that is…here is a link to a YouTube video and there are many others to choose from!)

She had not been able to find anyone to go with her however.  Until she mentioned it to our “little old lady knitting group” (ages from 58 to 69-1/2) and the four of us instantly said, “I’ll go.”  This was in early February 2012, and preparations took the place of all other activity.  Walking in 95-degree Texas heat, getting boots, backpack, making reservations, etc.

Just a brief history:  The Camino de Santiago is a 1000-year-old pilgrimage to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain where legend has it the remains of the Apostle James (the Greater, the brother of John, of the Sons of Thunder reputation) are interred.  James left Jerusalem to preach in Iberia, somewhat unsuccessfully some might argue as he allegedly had only 6 or 7 converts.  He returned to Jerusalem, was martyred, and his remains were placed in a stone boat which made it all the way, unpiloted, back to Spain where they were found and buried.  Thus, a cathedral had to be built and devotees began the long walk to visit his shrine.  It is the third most popular pilgrimage in Christendom, after Jerusalem and Rome…I had never heard of it!  To embrace the role of pilgrim, one walks with the barest of necessities (try just one change of clothes for 6 weeks!) and stays in alburgues or refugios with the barest of accommodations and no amenities.  More on that later!  But for those of you who can’t wait, enjoy the movie made by Emilio Estevez, starring Martin Sheen, “The Way” for a bit of background and preview of what we are facing.

Mid-May we all departed for Brussels, Belgium to visit Ann’s daughter (from left, BJ, Cindy, Barb, me, Ann) before taking a train through France to begin the hike at St. Jean Pied de Port, France at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains.

Note to self:  When raising the hem of trousers, do not simply fold over the existing hem!  First order of business after seeing this photo:  release the makeshift hem and wear the pants as purchased; the boots take up the height that flat shoes didn’t.  (From left: Ann, Barb, me, Cindy, and BJ)

Yes, we had to walk up and over the mountains the very first day of our hike!  It was brutally hot, murderously steep, my pack weighed more than 200 lbs (or so it seemed!) and not a lick of shade.  We fortunately arrived at the mid-point alburgue which still had vacancies, and put in for the day.  I quickly inquired as to the availability of motorized transport to our second-day’s destination.  The alburgue served a delicious and plentiful “Pilgrims’ Dinner” to all and we met our first Camino companions:  Amrit, a Sikh, and some Dutch hikers whose paths would separate from and meet up with ours many times over six weeks.

The next day, two of us took a taxi AROUND the mountain and arrived clean, refreshed and ready to rise on the third day,  leaving Roncesvalles entering the Basque country, whose inhabitants are quick to tell us they are not in Spain.  Just a short distance to go….

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2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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A Tribute

The following quote I saw today describes perfectly my experience with creating the Curve Master Presser Foot.  Although said by someone much smarter than I, who changed the world in a huge way more than the Curve Master ever will, I said to myself upon reading this, “That’s what I’ve been explaining to anyone who asks how I came up with the Curve Master!”

“To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.”

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”

“Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

And the last paragraph, about people in our industry ending up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem rang true as well, even though the speaker was referring to a different industry than quilting.  Those who do not expose themselves to new ideas or worse, those who reject new ideas remind me of a cartoon I saw years ago.  Two monkey parents, watching little Junior stand up and walk on his hind legs, saying to him, “No, no!  On all fours like Mom and Dad!”

So to whom do we attribute the above quote and why is it resounding with me just today?  Steve Jobs, Apple Computer.  (Wired, 1996)

As a person who lived before the first television and who was terrible at arithmetic and math, I have always dragged my feet where new technology was concerned.  Got my first PC when in graduate school in 1988, probably a 286 with dot matrix printer and a book about DOS, and limped along doing my papers on it.  When the garage mechanic who built my first PC said I might want to add more power to be ready when Windows arrived, I replied that I didn’t think I’d go that way, that I could work enough with DOS!  Of course from there I proceeded to 386, onward and upward, to the brink of Windows Vista when I said, “I’ve had enough of Windows!  I’m going to try a Mac.”

I bought my first MacBook (a black one) in 2007 and the world opened up.  Suddenly I could make photographs do what I wanted; I could find files; I could make movies and post them; I could create a blog.  I can assure you with 100% confidence that none of those would have happened without a Mac in my lap and on my desk.  Yes, I added a desktop, another laptop because I liked the design of the unibody aluminum, five ipods, two ipads, and I’m standing in line for whatever comes next!  No matter what city in the world I am in, one of the most fun alive places to visit is the local Apple Store!  In other words, Steve Jobs changed my world and although he will never see this, I still want to acknowledge that.

And not that I have the hubris to compare the Curve Master to a Mac, still the experience he describes relative to creativity is what I espouse in all the classes I teach:  “don’t just look, really “see.”  Don’t just accept the linear solution!”

Why am I suddenly thinking the old way of doing curves is a bit like working with Microsoft Vista?

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More Quilts of Valor

As many of you know, I demonstrate the Curve Master at many quilt shows using the Drunkard’s Path basic unit to show off how easy it is to sew curves.  Many of my finished sample pieces are sent on to the wonderful volunteers at Quilts of Valor and they in turn make them up into useful, beautiful quilts.  Here are some photos of the most recent ones.  Please consider how you can contribute to this wonderful organization.  Check online for Quilts of Valor Foundation.

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Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, England 2011

Here are a few photos of winners at this year’s show.  Despite concerns over riots in London, Birmingham, and Manchester and environs, the show was a rousing success.  Attendance was high, spirits were too.  Unfortuately, the artists’ names were not posted with their quilts and I do not have a program to obtain them.  I would certainly give credit for their efforts.

Best of Show, Art Quilt, called Octopussy.

Wall Quilt Winner called Hot Africa

Group Quilt – Meerkat Quilt Show

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Do You Remember?

Do you remember that awful day when you learned you are not supposed to eat or drink the ketsup directly from the cup containers?  The day you learned ketsup really is not a vegetable??  Are we still agile enough to get our lower lip out that far?


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