Friday, October 31, 2008


At a recent fiber arts meeting, the subject of batting came up.  Actually, one of the questions I'm asked the most is, "What kind of batting do you use?"

My favorite batting manufacturer is Hobbs Bonded Fibers.  I've been using their products for over 15 years.   

Thermore is ultra-thin, non-bearding (and I mean NON-bearding!!!), 100% polyster which provides a surprising amount of loft when quilted.  It's my batting of choice for clothing and smaller projects because it doesn't add bulk but it's strong enough to hold up to the rigors of my embellishments.  

For larger quilts I use Hobb's Heirloom - Harriet Hargave helped to develop this 80/20 batting.  The cotton helps to maintain the flat look, and the polyster adds strength.

Anita Heady prefers to purchase her batting on a roll and commented that the last batch of wool she bought appeared to have an uneven surface and wouldn't lay flat. When she said it was a Hobb's product, I knew that 'if' there was a manufacturing problem.....they'd make it right.  So I gave her the name of my contact.

She reports the following:  Lightly spritz the batting in water and toss in the dryer on medium for 10 mins.  This trick works for the silk and 90/20 battings as well.

It's a nice trick to remember when you decide to sandwich a quilt and forgot to lay out the batting for 24 hrs. to let it relax!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The Biltmore House is the area's biggest tourist attraction.  It was built as a country home by George W. Vanderbilt, the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made the family fortune in shipping and railroads.  Biltmore House opened on Christmas Eve 1895.

It was and still is the largest private residence in the country.  It truly must be seen to be believed.  One astonishing example that may put it into perspective:  It has 43 bathrooms.....amazing since at that time, few homes had any indoor plumbing.

I was playing tourist so much, my picture taking took a back seat.  'The husband' has a fondness for gargoyles, of which there were ample numbers both inside and out.

What a roses still in bloom against the crisp russet color of the trees.
24 members of the Asheville Quilt Guild participated in an exhibit displayed at the Deerpark Restaurant.  They were in a room, not unlike a gallery, where visitors could stroll and enjoy them.  This fun quilt, "Dresden Flower Garden" was made by Judy Simmons.

There are many restaurants on the property.  Here's a view of the Stables....yup it originally housed horses.  I suspect this was exclusively for the carriage horses because it's very close to the house.  No expense was spared.....the wood trim/doors were every bit as beautiful as the home and all the walls where white tiles.  The food was good too!

This is a must destination for anyone visiting Asheville.....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I woke up this morning and thought I was back in Wisconsin!  Good grief......Oct. 28th and it's 29 degrees and snowing!!  What a surprise....though I'm sure by this afternoon it will be sunny and the snow will have disappeared. 

Monday, October 27, 2008


The adventure of the Fiber Fair continues.....

My friend and I split a bag of silk cocoons.  She told me that the rattling inside was 'supposedly' the deceased silk worm.  WELL.......of course I had to check that out.  Yup, after cutting it open, the evidence was unmistakable.

Nanette is an experienced needle felter which led to her interest in learning other methods. Luckily she suggested we take Geri Forkner's Nuno Felting workshop.  In this wet technique, the wool is felted into woven fabric which creates amazing textures.  Our instructor described it best as 'laminated felt.'  We learned the process by creating a small dancing lady pin.  The lower fabric section of Nanette's project was left free of felting which adds another dimension to the piece.
One of the vendors offered on the spot workshop where for a small fee, participants built up layer after layer of wool fibers to create a scarf.  The materials were run through a Felt Loom machine numerous times to complete the needle felting process, bonding the layers together.

In this view you can see the needles.

These Alpacas had just been sheared, cute aren't they?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Attending the SAFF show in Asheville this weekend was a real eye opener.  Not unlike a large quilt show with huge numbers of vendors.......minus the quilts.  I had NO idea about this dedicated industry.

This view can only give you a glimpse of the vendors, selling everything to do with animal fiber; yarns, rovings, raw wool, all kinds of equipment and materials.  I got a good education from the very helpful and instructive vendors.  Many took the time to have ongoing demonstrations which I found fascinating.

This little pigmy goat created quite a crowd.....he was really adorable.

The facilities are a bit awkward for the workshop, but that didn't faze these students in a spinning class.

Besides purchasing animal could even purchase 'the animal!'

More pictures coming tomorrow....

Friday, October 24, 2008


I'm heading to SAFF tomorrow, which is being held at the WNC Ag. Center near the Asheville airport.  Apparently, it's THE place to go to find the latest and best information and materials for knitting, spinning, weaving, felting, fiber dying......and more.

The 2007 event was attended by 7500-8000 people.....that's really a lot for this neck of the mountains.

For a change.....a big change....I'm taking a workshop tomorrow afternoon on Nuno's been 16 years since I've taken a class....I hope I'll be a good student!

Sunday will be an all day visit to the Biltmore.....I'm ashamed that it has taken me 2 1/2 years to get there.  Stay tuned for what I hope will be a good pictorial overview of these two events.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I'm trying to do better at living for the moment.......not looking forward and forgetting about today.

Because....there's a lot to enjoy in these very picturesque surroundings today!

A view from the back of our home......the color has reached peak already here at 3,200 ft.

Most of the native flowers have died off as a result of several frosts.  How nice to see one little purple flower left as a reminder of what will come again.

The tobacco has been harvested and hung to dry.  Isn't this just the greatest photo moment?

At lower elevations, the color is still bright and was radiating in the sunlight.

A perfect example of the reason for the name -  Blue Ridge Mountains.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The Alliance for American Quilts eBay auction of the My Quilts/Our History project starts on Oct. 30th.  67 wonderful quilts will be auctioned to benefit AAQ  Here are two examples:

"Lover Never Ends" by Chandrea Kowalski is a tribute to the quiltmaker's mother and grandmother.  She applied hand shapes on top of an old quilt top of her grandmother's because as she explained, " My love of quilting was handed down."

"Bed of Roses" by Cynthia Herrman shows roses surrounded by thorns.  She says that her quilt history has been marked by 'taking chances and learning from mistakes."  In a way, the "thorns" of hard lessons have led her to create something more beautiful and satisfying.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I've actually had time to sneak in some sewing these last few days......alas....since I'm working on Christmas gifts, I can't share any details.

Instead, I'll resort to reporting on the formation of our homeowners association.....which is probably the world's smallest.  All but 5 lots of the 50 some in our community have been sold, but to date there are only 4 homes.  Apparently, folks who've purchased lots haven't been able to sell their home wherever they live, therefore can't build here.  Frankly, it's okay by's been over 2 years since we moved in and I've sort of claimed the area for myself!

Never the less.....since the developer had sort of let the common area get shabby, 'the husband' volunteered to spiff up our entrance by adding lighting to the sign and water feature.  Sorry about the fuzzy photo. 

Clearly, I need a better flash on my camera, truly is a picture of the low level lighting on our water feature.  Maybe if you squint your eyes you can see a bit of the water flowing in the center back.

That's the low level excitement in my life for today, let's see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I'm delighted to announce that Textures Gallery will now be representing me.  Many of my bead embellished felted wool pieces are available for purchase at 142 N. Main St., Waynesville, NC.

This exception gallery is owned by Suzanne Gernandt, a talented textile artist and her husband John, a renowned furniture maker.  The store is a visual treat for the eye with quality work creatively displayed.

With The Wind -  13" x 13" 
A bead embellished wool felt wall quilt.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Mountain winds can be pretty fierce, especially in the winter.  After only 2+ years the stain on our log siding was noticeablely faded and worse, black mildew appeared in areas on the back/north side of our home.

Gulp, due to the height of the house, we had to hire a crew to spiff it up.  They started by power washing the whole thing.  That translates into a MESS.....soggy wood pulp everywhere, including on the window screens which was a real pain to remove.

But, here's the finished product, AFTER two coats of stain on every wood surface and lots and lots of elbow grease by yours truly cleaning the windows.  We upgraded the quality and application process of the staining and expect to have a fairly maintanence free house for at least the next 4-5 years.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


The husband has been suffering with a really bad back these last few weeks and today he felt confident that he could get behind the wheel for "seat time' (as he calls it) and head out with the other leaf peepers.  It was perfect 'top down' weather.

The reds vibrate in the sunlight.

Here at about 3,200 feet elevation the trees are not quite at prime yet.  Though on our travels today, trees at about 4,100 feet have reached peak, and above that height, many leaves have already fallen.

We drove and drove and drove the curvy mountain roads.....Mr. Grumpy was replaced by Mr. Happy.  Around here BBQ is one of the 4 food groups (a problem for me since I actually don't like it and BBQ restaurants generally just serve BBQ!)  We stopped at Carolina Smokehouse in Cashiers, NC.  It was featured in the first season of Feasting on Asphalt hosted by Alton Brown on the Food Network. 

This is truly a hole in the wall where finding a parking place is difficult because it is so popular. Our entire lunch was under $12.00!  I especially like the limited decor....license plates on the walls and picnic tables outfitted with ketchup and hot sauce...I'm not kidding....that's the sum of this very small place.  But, if you are ever in the area.....ask anyone where it is....they will know.  I picked up their card but there's no address or website listed to share with you.

The husband knows these roads well as he often rides his motorcycle in the area.....since I refuse to get on that death trap I hadn't seen this waterfall before.  Isn't this neat?? can literally drive your car under the falls.

Another one of the many breathtaking water falls.

Kudzu.....there's lots of it covering trees, bushes, even abandoned cars......the road sides outside of Highlands, NC were covered with it.

There's a well known stretch of road in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park called 'The Road To Nowhere'......yes, another ridiculous waste of taxpayers money.  It begins just outside of Bryson City, NC, and you drive this lovely scenic road for about 7 miles and then it just literally stops.  Amazing.

That wasn't quite the end of our day, but it is the end of my photos for today.....however my memories of a lovely day will last a long time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Banks have been much in the news lately......the negative reports make us all uncomfortable This blog doesn't talk politics......I'm making one slight exception....and that is to say I'm sick of the whole I'm focusing on the positives instead.  Head in the sand?  Perhaps, butit's better than having a heart montior on my chest due to the stress of listening to how the sky is falling. 

Our little home town bank is fabulous.  You are always greeted by name, with lots of smiles and 'hey, how ya doin's?"   The staff doesn't miss an opportunity to decorate and lift spirits for any holiday or event.  Doesn't this just make you grin?

And of course, they know a good way to the customers heart is through their stomach! Halloween candy has been available by the handful for several weeks already.

Now this is truly amazing.....and it's available all year long.  Yup, you got ice cream....and not the cheap stuff either.

Home baked cookies and hot coffee are another year round staple....I find myself going inside for my banking rather than using the drive thru window....yummy.  There's also a cooler with cold pop and water.   So.....if you live in this area....look for a Mountain First Bank......besides banking, they offer food!

Monday, October 13, 2008


This is the way I want to travel!  'The husband' was in a folk band in college......the guys have remained in touch all these years.  One is now a pilot who flies executives around the country and just happened to fly into Asheville late today.  

We met him at the private section of the what's called the Millonaire's Club.....not too fancy, but I could get used to it!

We headed to a favorite Asheville eatery called the Fiddlin' Pig where there's live Bluegrass almost every evening.

For the life of me I can't understand why it is necessary to have TV?!?

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Our closest town, Waynesville, is about 20 mins. away.  It has a charming downtown with lots of galleries, shops, restaurants.  What more could a gal ask for?

Every fall it's the site of an invitational art fair that's awesome.  A wide variety of high quality artwork, such as pottery, quilts, handwovens, baskets, yarns, beautiful turned wood bowls, jewelry, etc. is available direct from the artists.

This artist was demonstrating spinning and had lots of lovely yarns for sale.

When I got home and downloaded my photos, I was somewhat surprised that 90% of the photos I took were food related.  Hummmmm.  How Southern is this food stand??

And no Southern event could be held without BBQ.  This was quite the production and the smells traveled for blocks.

We were absolutely thrilled to learn that one of our favorite Bluegrass bands - Balsam Range -was playing.  Here grammy award winner, Mark Pruett is featured on the banjo. Each time I see cloggers, I vow I want to take looks like such fun.

The perfect ending after shopping and visiting our share of food stands is a final stop at the homemade ice cream stand.  'The husband' was intrigued by the engine....apparently it's called a '1 lunger'......which turned the blades in the wooden ice cream barrels.  However, I was far more interested in one of my favorite cream!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


The Fiber Arts Alliance has a very talented membership pool.  Our focus is education and sharing information provided mainly by our own members.  What I like about it is the informal, little to no business meeting approach....who has time to sit through long winded meetings?

Patsy Thompson shared her amazing quilts with us yesterday.  She's a natural teacher, providing the why's and how of her excellent machine quilting techniques.  Her website is a wealth of information where she generously offers freedownloads of quilting motifs from her DVD's.  Be sure to check out her gallery of fantastic quilts....where you'll notice how well she marries the quilts' design and the quilting.  Her DVD's, which are excellent can be purchased from her site.

This small piece is a journal page quilt......the quilting gives the impression of a flowing river.

Patsy revealed a helpful trick she uses to keep her quilts so flat, square, and pucker free, while still adding a lot of machine stitching texture.  Working on a section of her stablized quilt top (think large quilt block), she fuses a motif, satin stitches the edges, then with the tearaway stabilizer removed, she machine embroiders the motif.  The stitching becomes more managable by working just on the quilt top, rather than through the typical 3 quilt sandwich layers.