Category Archives: baskets

Nordic Tapestry in Washington Depot

The day after the eclipse marked one month left until the vernal equinox.  We are on the downward slope of summer.  These next few weeks will hold the last of summer’s wealth….

Last weekend my friend Jody joined me in visiting the opening for the Nordic Tapestry exhibit in Washington Depot.  What a lovely town that is, and the venue for this show of works was quite beautiful, which made a great backdrop for the wonderful tapestries.  The artists are a group of students of Helena Hernmarck, mostly from Sweden, with one from Iceland and a couple from the US, who organized this event to honor Helena during her 75th year.  What a great birthday present! ….and well deserved.

This is one of the Swedish weavers, Stina Fjelkner-Modig, standing in front of her “Poppies in a Wheat Field.”  She has certainly done wonderful things with Hernmarck’s technique for creating texture.


This may be my favorite tapestry from the students’ exhibition.  It is “Autumn” by Anneli Forsberg.  Jody and I enjoyed talking to her about Sweden and working with Helena. It’s stunning, right?– with the same marvelous use of floats and thick bundles of weft.


A few other works of note…..



“Longing for Summer,” by Hugrun Runarsdottir


Two of the artists/weavers admiring the crocus. The artist for this tapestry is on the left.


Both exhibit spaces were on the green in Washington Depot.  This is the building where the students’ exhibition was on display.


In the back is a lovely sunken garden where they served refreshments. By the time Jody and I found this spot the opening was over and the clean up had started.


At the other end of the green was the display of Helena’s work.  I loved the setting and the way this building is open to the outdoors.


The last time I saw Helena, at her studio, this piece was newly finished.  It is double woven with a layer of plastic strips on the back.  When it is hung in a way that allows viewing on both sides, it has a luminous, transparent effect.  The plastic on the back side creates a sparkling effect on the front.  On the back side the effect of the woven plastic strips is very glossy and dazzling.


One of my all time favorite pieces is Helena’s “Anemones.”  Her use of floats and big bundles of weft is what makes her dramatic use of focus and out of focus effects.  Looks like I had trouble focusing on holding my camera straight!


Here’s a detail shot….


At the end of our visit, dear Jody got a photo of Helena and me together.  I treasure this!


It was Jody who thought to take this fabulous photo of two of Helena’s works together.


This was the BIG event of my summer, and I’m looking forward to seeing another work of Helena’s at the “Plunge” exhibit in New Bedford, later this weekend!

Backtracking a little, I made contact with one of the award winners from the juried exhibit at NEWS.  The basketmaker, Barbara Feldman Morse.  I’m rather certain I saw another of her baskets awarded two years ago.  Now this year she gilded the lily by also weaving a liner for her latest basket.  Brilliant!


I had no way to contact any of the weavers whose works I admired, but I happened to stumble on Barbara on Facebook, so I tried contacting her through FB messenger.  Well, it took a couple of weeks for her to see my message, but when we connected at last I found a most interesting woman!

Over the 40 years that I have been weaving and getting to know other weavers, I’ve often found that weavers lead fascinating lives.  They are often gardeners, artists in tw0-dimensional techniques, like painting, and often good cooks too.  Many weavers seem to love cats.  It turns out that Barbara loves to cook and in particular she bakes madeleines!  What wonderful little luxuries!  She has published a cookbook on madeleines and her madeleines were sold at Ghiradelli’s Chocolate in San Fransciso, at local  Starbucks, and they have been used in films.  All that baking success is quite a feat on its own, but she is also a master weaver and accomplished basket maker.  I am happy that I have crossed her path.  You can read her here and also get a few madeleine recipes!

And summer marches on …. Bob and I participated in a “Conquer the Current” paddle on the Connecticut River last weekend.  He did the conquering and I kept cool and out of the sun by holding my umbrella.  Bob rowed 9 miles down the river!  We put in at the Haddam Bridge (think Goodspeed Opera House), and ended at the Connecticut River Museum, in Essex, where the museum staff treated all participants to a wonderful Sunday brunch on the grounds of the museum–even me–who didn’t do a thing!



The gardens I see along my walks are just beginning to show signs of slowing down, but are always still a wonderful part of any venture outside.  It was a hazy August day-after-eclipse that I took these.



The eclipse seemed to have an oddly productive effect on me.  Before it started I dug out some linen fabric that I had eco-dyed last summer, unsuccessfully.  Actually, I eco-dyed it twice and still did not get a pleasing outcome.  So on eclipse morning I brewed up some French marigold flowers that have been stashed in my freezer from last year’s garden.  I simmered the linen fabric for about an hour, then let it cool in the dye bath for the rest of the day.

This photo is about as hazy as my garden shots above.  The color is actually darker and quite interesting.  The fern prints from eco-dyeing that barely showed up now stand out considerably more!  Win, win!

First the marigolds, so you can see the color of the flowers.


And here’s what I got…although darker than this photo.


After the eclipse I brewed up a batch of peach jam.  That’s a lot of productivity for me in one day….. it had to be some lunar/solar energy vibes.


It’s been a good week in my little world.  I hope it’s been good for you too!



Basket Man

Yesterday may have been our last day to visit Old Havana, and I’m so glad I didn’t know it then because I would have felt a need to rush about more. Luckily we had a relaxing day and enjoyed some kind of holiday celebration that was happening.

We are trying to figure out the best ‘weather window’ for leaving Cuba. We knew we’d get the window some time this week, and now it looks like tomorrow is the day. So, here is our loose game plan. The winds are opposing the gulf stream a good deal of the time right now, but for the next couple of days those winds are pretty mild from pre-dawn until midday. So we will leave early in the morning, and sail in the gulf stream until the afternoon, when hopefully we will be near Key Largo. At that point we’ll head toward shore, out of the stream, and sail near the Florida coast until early the next morning when the winds die down again. We’ll head back into the Gulf Stream to Ft. Lauderdale, where we hope to clear in. By doing this we get a boost of speed from the northbound currents in the Gulf Stream while the opposing winds are mild, and when those opposing winds are stronger during the afternoon and evenings, we’ll slip out of the stream into the calmer waters outside the stream. I’m sure I’ll be sick, but hopefully less so than during some of our passages this winter.

The US Coast Guard sent us an email the other day (right after Bob had just composed a message to them) to ask if we were still on schedule for returning to the US by May 1. Bob responded, and we are hoping to hear back on whether we can clear in to Ft. Lauderdale. I have my fingers crossed about this because it will be more convenient for us to arrive in Ft. Lauderdale than in Miami. My flight home is Tuesday morning, out of Ft. Lauderdale.

Bob has just heard that the no-anchoring bill in Florida will indeed go into effect on May 1, so our plans for arriving in Ft. Lauderdale have to be adjusted. We will go to Miami instead, not a first choice for either of us. I guess we will rent a car to get to my Ft. Lauderdale flight. That’s boat life for you….you can make all the plans you want, even at the last minute, when you think you’ve got everything in hand, but the powers that be just laugh and laugh.

Yesterday we went back into Old Havana to look for the headquarters of the Women’s Federation for Handwork. Over the weekend we found the retail shop where the garments are sold, but the workshop where women take courses and make things for the shop is closed on the weekends. Yesterday we had a bit of a run around trying to find the workshop. When we did find it, we learned that all the ‘professores’ were gone since classes only take place in the mornings, while we arrived in the early afternoon. Maybe it’s just my imagination, and a leftover feeling from my visit to the workshop in Santiago, but I got the distinct impression that there would be complications trying to get anyone to see me. Yesterday I got to speak to a custodian and a language teacher, but when I asked for a ‘manager’ they both responded that ‘this was not possible.’ After meeting the open and generous women on the Paseo del Prada, and sharing such an excitement for handwork in spite of our communication barriers, I just couldn’t muster enough energy at this point to care if I met the administrators of this federation. I don’t think their goals are quite the same as mine. Admittedly I do not have the ‘whole picture,’ but from my limited perspective I believe their goal is to promote traditional clothing and make a successful business training women to keep these techniques alive and make the garments ‘saleable.’ It is a business venture that needs to succeed, and I hope it does succeed because that just makes handwork more valuable to everyone. But my mission is to meet women who love handwork and want to share what they do. I found that in spades with the group of women who surround Adriana Martinez.

It was some kind of holiday yesterday, but I never understood what! Several people wished us a ‘happy holiday,’ and museums were open in Old Havana that had been closed during our previous visits. While we were in the ceramic museum, I asked our guide what holiday was being celebrated, and she replied that it was the national holiday for ceramics. Bob and I are not at all sure we understood this properly. All kinds of museums were open that have been closed during our previous visits…maybe the holiday was really about Cuban heritage. Anyway, our guide still maintained that it was a ceramics holiday.

The ceramic museum was in the home of an historic ceramic artist who had a workshop and shop on the ground floor and living quarters for his family on the upper floor. The building was from the late 19th century with a central courtyard, and it made a wonderful museum for a history of Cuban ceramic artists. Each room featured a different time period of artists’ works. The courtyard was devoted to vessels and large figures.

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Our guide understood enough English for me to tell her that one of my good friends is a ceramics artist who does large figures in terracotta. I took these photos for her.

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Somehow in our conversation it came about that our guide loves to knit. She took us to the entrance of the employees lounge and asked us to be very quiet since her boss was in there. She went in and came back moments later with a little bag of her knitting. It was the same ecru cotton floss type thread that the women on Paseo del Prada were using to crochet and make lace. I wonder where they get this material. Our guide told us she’d like to knit all day long, but can only find a few minutes here and there during her breaks at work. She said she never gets any time to knit at home because she has to cook and take care of her family. Sound familiar?

There were so many places open for touring or for business that had not been open all weekend long. It was a festive day, and there women dressed in traditional costumes on many street corners. You could take a photo of there for $5 CUC, which seemed a bit dear to us. Near the end of the day, Bob managed a discreet photo from a distance.



One of the places that had been closed over the weekend was a perfumerie. We had looked through the windows of this museum/shop and admired the antique brass containers used for distilling fragrances, the wonderful colonial furniture and display cabinets, and the glass apothercary jars that held the fragrances. I was thrilled to get into this shop to see things at close range! Bob took some photos while I smelled the fragrances and bought a ceramic jar of violetta for myself and lavender for my sister.

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Every store has a beautiful courtyard since they are housed in historic buildings. This is the courtyard of the perfumeria.  Bob and I had been admiring the stained glass every time we walked by this building over the weekend.

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In the late afternoon yesterday, Bob and I happened upon a young man making baskets from palm fronds. In his large basket he had a number of exquisite, small items made from the fronds….birds, and a little house with a cricket on top.

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He was easy to talk to and knew enough English that we could communicate quite well. As Bob and I were marveling at the fineness of these tiny basket creations, he offered me one of his ‘birds.’ It appeard that he was giving me a gift, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Here again was someone offering a gift and letting fate take his generosity where it would. I put the bird back in his large basket and asked him for the little house with a cricket on top. Buying that took a bit more time and frustration than we’d anticipated! First, Bob could not find his money, and as he searched we had the sickening feeling that maybe we’d lost all our money. After a few heartstopping minutes he did find his stash of money, but then we did not have exact change to buy the little cricket. The basket maker could not make change for us. So Bob went in to the local bar to ask for change, but they did not have it either. Then the basket maker left his spot to go buy a beer which would give him change. (You can walk about the streets in Havana with alcohol). He came back smiling, and yet he still did not have the necessary change! In the end, laughing, he accepted somewhat less than his price, and he still handed me the little bird as a gift.

Bob and I went to dinner with my little house with cricket and my birdie sitting on the table before us as a quirky centerpiece. We kept admiring both these baskets, and I decided I had to have another little house with cricket as a present. I hoped we’d still find our basket maker on the street where we left him by the time we left the restaurant—which was a beautiful courtyard that had once been a print shop.

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Restaurant Imprenta:

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When we got back to the spot where we’d seen the basket maker, the other street artists had just finished packing up their wares and were headed home. Likely the basket maker would soon be doing the same. But we’d gotten there just in time to ask if we could watch him make a little house with cricket on top, and he seemed happy to oblige even though he still had one already made. It took about 20 minutes for him to make, and we had a wonderful conversation with him as he worked.

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He started with two long palm fronds and crossed the fronds (north/south/east/west) over each other in the middle of the frond lengths. Starting with the ends that taper down to points, he began to fold each frond over the other in a consecutive direction. Since the fronds were tapering down to their outer ends the little box he was making got smaller and smaller, tapering like the fronds themselves. This made the roof of the house.


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Then he went back to the other half of the fronds that led to the base of where they’d been cut from the tree, and he made the same consecutive folds for making a square. This made the house itself. Very clever. He cut some frond strips to insert into the box for doors and windows.

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The exquisite litte cricket!

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As he worked we talked…. He loves to make baskets and these little figures are things he ‘invents’ himself. He is always thinking of ways to make some kind of little structure or animal out of the traditional basket making techniques that he uses to make regular baskets. He took out his phone and showed us photos of his baskets. If he’d had any of these with him I would have bought some too! He does careful work that results in beautiful baskets!

I told him that I sometimes make baskets too, but not from palm fronds since there are no palm trees where I live. Bob took my phone and began showing photos of my weaving and bobbin lace since he could not find any photos of my baskets. When Bob showed a photo of my tatting the basketmaker’s face lit up and he said his wife does this! I asked if his wife also does crochet and ‘tejer,’ and of course he said yes! He said she loves these techniques and loves to work with her hands. We had a little discussion of how it feels to let our hands work the repetitive motions of these crafts while our minds are free to ponder. Making things with our hands allows our brains time to contemplate many things.   He also told me he plays the piano and the violin. Someday he’d like to have a cello. He loves the cello most of all.

After giving me the little house with cricket he’d just made, he asked if I’d like him to make a snake. Naturally I said yes. I was curious to see what other techniques might be used to make these little figures, and the snake involved a different kind of manipulation of the fronds. When he finished he gave me that too. He really was most generous!

The only downside of our visit with him happened when a woman stopped for a moment to watch while he was making little cricket on top of the house for me. He offered her the one that was already completed. When he told her the price ($3 CUC) she said, “Big city prices….no thank you!” and walked away. We were all stunned. Yes, there are vendors who have high prices for things and who expect you to bargain, but these are mostly vendors who sell things that they have bought to sell. The artists we’ve encountered sell their work for very little, and I cannot imagine haggling with them. Perhaps I’m wrong about this, but how can you expect to pay even less for such an exquisite concoction of creativity? $3 Cuc for 20 minutes of work? Also, as a craftsman myself, I have stood in my own booths over the years and overheard people say that handwoven items are too expensive—that you can buy something just like it in a store for far less.

Well, you cannot buy a little basket woven house with a tiny cricket on top in any store that I know of. I was disappointed in this exchange. It would have been better for her to acknowledge what a little gem he’d just handed her, but that she could not spare the money at this time. It’s such a sad commentary that she felt she had to devalue his work in order to get away.

During all our cab trips to and from Old Havana we drive through modern Havana, including Embassy Row.  The US Embassy is newly opened and has never been on the avenue where all the other embassies are.  Most of the embassies are in historic colonial buildings and are quite a sight.  The Russian Embassy is the exception, although it too is quite a sight!  It is an wonderful example of Soviet architecture.

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Tonight we’ll have drinks around the pool here in Marina Hemingway with some of the other cruisers we’ve met in the last few weeks, along with Lars whom we met as we arrived in Cuba two months ago.  Some of us will walk to a local Spanish restaruant in the nearby town (Jaimentio?–something like that) to have a final dinner together.  Then is farewell to Havana and to Cuba.  It’s been great, but home is beckoning.  Bienvenidos Florida by this time on Friday!


So Much Water over the Bridge!

Weeks have passed since my last post….a combination of rough weather and lots of sailing has prevented me from keeping up here.  I cannot use my computer when I am seasick, and I’ve been seasick a lot!

But that is not to say that I haven’t had some wonderful times during the past couple of weeks.  We have had some great times on shore!

Today we are back in Staniel Cay in order to meet our son Rob and his girlfriend Kandice when they fly here tomorrow afternoon.  The weather is finally settled and promises to be springlike for the next few days! …Although at this very moment the dark skies to the southwest are rapidly approaching, and I think we will get quite a violent squall any minute now! During squalls like these we have sometimes seen water spouts….I hope we won’t experience one!

We have lots of plans for things to do with Rob and Kandice, starting with seeing the pigs on Big Major’s Spot and snorkeling in the local grotto, named after the old James Bond movie “Thunderball” where the filming took place. We have not seen Rob and Kandice since early January, so we are really excited for their arrival!

Yesterday we sailed about 50 miles from Rock Sound, Eleuthera, to Pipe Cay in the Exumas.  (Perhaps I should mention that just a week earlier I also endured a 70 mile ocean run from Thompson Bay, Long Island, to Rock Sound Eleuthera….go me!) While we were getting under way, Bob heard on the Cruiseheimers net (on sideband radio) that someone caught a big tuna, so he could not resist the temptation to try catching something himself.  He put out a line and within an hour or so he had a mahi mahi giving him a good fight.  As he got it closer to the boat we could see it was a whopper!




That fish yielded us over 8 lbs of filets! We had our friends Maureen and Bill (from Kalunamoo) over for dinner last night, and we have at least four more meals waiting in the freezer.  We will definitely have it for dinner one night while Rob and Kandice are here.

And what a wonderful time we had on Eleuthera!  This was our first visit there.  Easter weekend was lovely in Rock Sound.  We decided to visit the Methodist Church for Easter service, while Bill and Maureen went to the Catholic church….there were numerous other choices as well.  As luck would have it, just before the service started Nancy and George from Trumpeter (Nancy taught me to make Bahamian coiled baskets last winter) came and sat next to us.  They have attended this church every Easter for several years.  The service was very festive, with lots of music, a liturgical dancer and plenty of enthusiasm in the congregation.  We estimated that there were over 100 people in the congregation, about 40% white and 60% black.  This Methodist Church is one of the oldest churches on the island, and has already celebrated its bicentennial.  The sanctuary is deceptively modern, with an elaborate sound system and a power point projector.  It was a hoot!


On Easter afternoon we met Bill and Maureen at the local blue hole, right in the center of the town park in Rock Sound, for our Easter dinner picnic.  Maureen had baked some of their own frozen mahi mahi for us, along with freshly baked beer bread!  This blue hole is quite impressive since it is only a few feet shallower than Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island, which is the deepest blue hole in the world.  And Rock Sound’s blue hole sits in the middle of a lovely park where we could have our picnic right at the edge of the water, in the shade of a big tree.  It was a perfect afternoon!


We also rented a car for two days and toured the rest of Eleuthera with Maureen and Bill.  We visited the Glass Window on a mild day and were very impressed with the force of the ocean even in calm conditions. Our photo does not show how much force the calm waters have when they hit the tiny isthmus here.  It was dramatic! I can only imagine what that surging bit of the Atlantic must have looked like the day it moved the bridge about 12 feet.  Yikes!


We drove north to a spot called Preacher’s Cave, a place where some English settlers found refuge after their ship was wrecked on the Devil’s Backbone (back in the late 1600s) at the northeastern side of Eleuthera near what is now Harbour Island.  The cave is impressively big, so it’s easy to understand that it provided a wonderful refuge for those weary and distraught settlers.


Along the way on our 90-mile drive north we also stopped at the Queen’s Baths, another spot where the mighty Atlantic surges against the coast into a cave creating lots of foam and bubbles. Can you see Maureen and me picking our way across the far side of the Queen’s Baths?


Walking along these craggy shores is a lot harder than it looks in this photo.  Here’s a close up to give an idea of how rough going it is!  The rocks are some kind of very sharp limestone….lots of small (and sometimes large!) craters have formed in these rocks so getting a flat purchase for walking is virtually impossible!


The shopping and restaurant options on Eleuthera were quite a bit more civilized than we’ve experienced in the Exumas!  We had a lovely lunch two days in a row.  The first day we visited Rainbow Inn and sat on their upper deck overlooking Exuma Sound, and the second day we stopped at Tippi’s and sat in an open air dining room that overlooked the pink sand beach and the Atlantic.


And here is a shot of the pink sand beach at Tippi’s.


Eleuthera was so much more civilized than the Exumas that they even have a ‘camauflaged” cell tower.  All through the islands we recognize the distinctive red and white towers of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (Batelco) and anchor nearby these towers whenever we can so that we can have cellular internet, such as now!  But Eleuthera has a cell tower camauflaged as palm tree!


So now I am in the final stages of my winter away.  I’m not certain now much more work I’ll get done on my various projects.  Perhaps my tapestry will not be finished when I leave….sigh…  but I do have two pairs of socks finished (one of them being those fun ‘skewed’ socks!), a fair isle sweater knitted up to the armholes waiting for inspiration on how to proceed for the upper body shaping, several small table embroideries from decades back now finished!….and the last project:  Boo Knits “Sweet Dreams” shawl that I just started yesterday.  Shawl knitting is quite addictive… I often find that I knit the whole thing in one go.  I’m into the final lace area already, so I guess I would say this project is hard to put down. I’m using Verdant Gryphon “Mithral” in the colorway “Bathsheba,” which has lovely woodland shades of bronze/evergreen/burgundy that reminds me of fairies!  Queen Mab would love this shawl!

We’ll spend the next 10 days with our kids traveling north through the Exumas.  We hope to take the kids to Compass Cay to swim with the sharks and see the beautiful beach there, then to Warderick Wells for more swimming and snorkeling in the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  Bob has stumbled into a wonderful connection with the manager of Over Yonder Cay, where we may get a private tour ….if it works out I will definitely give details!

By the end of the first weekend in May we must be back in Nassau for the kids and I  to meet our flight back to the US.  I will stop in Baltimore with Rob and Kandice for a visit at their house and some time with my favorite dog, Bosun!  Bob’s crew will arrive the day I fly out with the kids, so he will begin his journey back to the US the slow way.

I am so excited to be headed home for a beautiful spring on the Connecticut River!  I hope some of my bulbs will still be blooming, and I hope I have some Danish flag poppies in bloom from the seeds I planted last fall!  On my first day home (if I can get one of the cars started!) I will be heading out to my local weaving guild meeting!  Lots to look forward to!

The Second Time Around

We are hearing from other sailors that this has been a challenging winter in the Bahamas with lots of unsettled weather bringing strong winds here. I am relieved to here that it isn’t always this blustery down here!

We are back in Little Farmers’ Cay, and it is an entirely different experience the second time around.  What a lovely spot when the winds are calm.

The water is so calm it seems that Pandora is floating on air above the sea life right below us.  There are beautiful turtles here, large rays, lots of purple sea fans, brain coral and other reef life that I cannot name!  The fish are darting in and out of the reefs, and it’s all on display all around us.  We don’t even need to use our glass bottom bucket!

Yesterday we did some exploring by dinghy and found some wonderful shells on a couple of beaches, and also visited the turtles that live in the grasses in a little  bay, as well as the fisherman cleaning the day’s catch which attracted all the rays.

I also spent the morning weaving my third palm frond coiled basket.  Here are my finished second and third baskets.  The first basket will never be photographed!

Now that I’ve taken these photos, I realize that I should have included something to give them scale.  They are small, about 3″ in diameter.  This basket has a small shell sewn into the inner bottom and a little piece of coral tied to the outside.

We have started looking at various plans for getting home later this spring.    If all goes according to my wishes, I’ll be home just in time to participate in the end of year party with my weaving group as well as the final meeting of the year of my weavers’ guild!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!  And Bob is beginning to build his case for sailing to Maine this summer.  He has enlisted the help of my little sheep friends.  Boy, he drives a hard bargain.

I had my first bad migraine since leaving the US last night.  A scary thing, wondering if my medication would work and what I might do if it didn’t.  It was a bad one, so today I will take it easy…. and enjoy the beautiful skies!

Sweetgrass in Charleston

We are in Charleston, and I have not posted anything here since our arrival last Thursday.  Bob has posted lots of photos and descriptions of what we’ve been up to, and he’s done such a thorough job, that I’m not inclined to try to catch up!

I’ve been distracted.  We are photographing doors and window boxes, something I’m always intrigued to do… I’ve been thinking of window box images taken from every place I’ve been in the past decade or so…. Maine, France, England, now Charleston.  There are so many beautiful little window gardens…  I’d like to choose a few and weave them using Theo Moorman technique as Daryl Lancaster does (and as I have now done a couple of times), and put them together in a window frame fashion.  I’ve got just the spot in our house for this…

I’ve also been distracted thinking about the potential group tapestry project that the Wednesday Group might do.  For the first time in aeons I have been reading papers on classical literature and reliving my past when this was such a major part of my life.  It’s been aeons of aeons since then.  It’s rekindling the love of words and ancient languages that I’ve neglected for so long…

And I’ve been looking for the perfect basket.  Actually, I saw it last Thursday, on my first day in the Charleston Market, but I did not know it until I’d spent days looking at hundreds more baskets!

I didn’t realize that I would have so many choices.  And in the end that perfect basket was still waiting for me this morning, although when I finally realized it someone was holding it, considering it for themselves.  They put it down, and I heard them say, “I’ll think about it and come back”…..bam!  It is now mine.

Carlene Habersham made my basket. Here she is making some last minute adjustments to the rim.

She had this book on display in her booth

Carlene said the basket on the cover was made by her grandmother.  She then turned to the pages that highlighted both her grandmother’s and her mother’s work.  I was duly impressed.  But most of all, I just love the basket she made.

Last Thursday I spoke to another woman, Susie, who had some very delicate small baskets on display.  I wanted six of them to give to some basket making friends of mine.  Susie said only her daughter did work that small, and she called to ask if her daughter could make six miniature baskets over the weekend.  Susie told me to come back today and they would be ready.  Luckily for me, her daughter came too so I could meet her.

There were lots of other stalls with small baskets, but only these were done to a scale that was pleasing to the size of the basket.  Aren’t they lovely?

This basket is done by Susie’s other daughter.  It caught my eye as I was leaving their booth.

I am in basket heaven….

Days 52 – 56, Nov. 1 – 5: Charleston, South Carolina


We are stumbling closer and closer to our move to Connecticut.  We have a buyer for our house in New Jersey, and we’ve committed to a house in Connecticut…..but getting everything to fall into place so everyone involved can move on has been a bit difficult.  It looks like we will be en route to our new home by the middle of next week!  We have been rattling around in our empty, echoing house for a few weeks now.  It doesn’t feel like our home anymore, so it’s time to move on….

We packed my last loom over the weekend.  I probably should have taken some photographs!…but it was too stressful.  I had the strong impression that one of us was going to end up in the ER, so grabbing the camera just didn’t happen.  This last loom is my big Toika, and it had a warp of cotton seine twine on it for a boundweave project.  My dear friend and experienced Toika weaver, Sister Bianca recommended leaving the warp on the loom.

Sr. Bianca advised me to take the beater, the harnesses, and the jacks from the top of the loom, and wrap them all together around the warp beam.  It was a brilliant suggestion!….

….executing it was not so brilliant….. imagine cutting the warp from the front apron and taking the reed out of the beater.  While trying to keep that from flopping about, I then tried to hold all the jacks in place while my husband tried to disconnect the jack-holding frame from the large side frames of the loom.  Where was our 3rd set of hands for this job???  Certainly no extra hands for photos…  At one point I thought the jack frame would surely hit one of us on the head, necessitating a hospital visit, and possibly necessitating a long recovery from head injuries (if not worse).  My husband was not amused at my conjectures.  I wanted to take a ‘time out’ to plan a strategy; he just wanted to get it over with!  Typical male/female disagreement, I believe!

I’m happy to report that there was no loss of life…..or even loss of consciousness!  But I don’t want to do that again any time soon.  If there is to be a next time, I must remember to get more detailed information on how to accomplish this! Advise welcome!

With my looms packed, I have turned to more portable projects.  (Hey, who am I kidding?….I haven’t actually woven in several months, just knowing that I was going to have to pack up those looms.)  Have you seen the swing knitting projects on Ravelry? Amazing!  I’m intrigued…

I did buy the workshop download for learning this technique, but I didn’t want wristlets, or a hat, or socks.  I wanted a jacket!  So I jumped in the deep end of the pool, and really, this technique is not difficult to understand.  There is no reason to do a little project if you really want the big one!  This jacket, designed by Heidrun Leigmann, requires four sections just like this one which I finished a few days ago:

Swing Knitted Jacket by Heidrun Leigmann

As you can see, it is a mitered square with short rows to create the curving elements.  The yarn called for is Noro’s “Flower Bed,” which I cannot find here in the US.  Since it is roughly sock weight yarn, and since I love the weight and bounce of Shetland, I have chosen to use a Shetland-like yarn by  Kauni in a long colorway that runs through the entire spectrum.  Is it too colorful??  Probably.  Do I have the guts to wear something this blinding?  …not sure… but I am enjoying knitting it!  Can I really knit four of these sections without losing motivation?  …not sure of that either!

In other facets of life, when not packing, I have made another “Blooming Gardens” crystal bracelet, along with matching earrings and even a small pendant.  The purple one is for my sister’s very belated birthday.

And lastly, I finished the Nantucket basket that I want to give as a wedding present to a dear friend’s daughter.  It’s only three months late…. that’s actually quite good for me! Now I’d like to make one for each of my own kids!




Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick in the garden

It’s the week after Thanksgiving.  The weather is ridiculously mild.  We’ve had a holiday weekend of sun and warmth that felt like September, but today there is change in the air.  I was just outside taking some garden photographs, and moments afterward the wind kicked up and suddenly there is a little squall passing through.


Callicarpa "Beauty Berry"

I am starting the holiday gift making with a small Nantucket basket.


7" Nantucket basket design by Marlys Sowers

The base and rim were made by Jeff Sowers out in Iowa, and the basket design is by his wife Marlys.  His turned rim is stunning, so I can’t wait to get to that point!  This is a lovely basket, and I hope to make several!

Glorious Summer

herb garden on board Pandora

This is the extent of my gardening on board (well, almost)! Rosemary, thyme and a bright red geranium! I have no idea how my gardens at home are faring in the 90+ degree heat of the past few weeks, but this little pot makes me quite happy!




A visit to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay with a good friend was a perfect summer day. These gardens sit on 128 acres that border the shoreline of Back River.  The idea for the gardens started in 1991, and the land was purchased in 1996, with some of the founding directors using their personal homes as collateral for the land purchase.  The grand opening occurred in 2007!  There is a wealth of inspiration here, and most plants are clearly identified.  There are tranquil spaces, such as the Meditation Garden and the Waterfall garden along with several quiet woodland paths. And then there are spaces that are strikingly beautiful such as the Children’s Garden and many perennial borders.

One of several mazes in the gardens

Birdhouse at edge of Cleaver Event Lawn and Garden


Really large bonsai planter


So many daisies!


Path through the Vayo Meditation Garden

Pond in the Children's Garden

And here is the winning idea I took from my tour: a wall of plants!  It is made by filling wire baskets with soil, then stacking them and framing them into an attractive wall.  This wall of plants not only saves space, but also makes a good screen to block unsightly views!  I want it!


Herb wall

This example of a planted wall is filled with herbs.  You can see one of the wire boxes in the lower left on the ground next to the wall.  They had walls planted with annual flowers and one shade wall planted with ferns.




Today the wind is howling so we will sit on our mooring in Boothbay Harbor.  I am going to work on my Nantucket purse and remember my wonderful day in the gardens!


Life is what happens…

…when you’re busy making other plans….

In the midst of my weaving, spinning, basket making, bobbin lace, knitting and gardening my life has taken a sharp turn.

I was so busy getting two Nantucket baskets ready for weaving while sailing in Maine in July and August… enthusiastically looking forward to a week of weaving at Vavstuga later this month…  admiring this year’s crop of weld blooming magnificently and watching for indigo seeds to sprout in the garden.  I’ve finished a blanket for a good friend recovering from hip replacement surgery and have recently started Deborah Newton’s ‘greenhouse tank’ from the current issue of IWKnits.

Then Life struck.  My father died unexpectedly on May 19, and now two other family members have passed as well.  I had to move my mother from her home to mine, a great distance away, and then into assisted living.  I am buried in legalities and paper work, and somehow my projects seem like a whim from a distant past.

Still, it is a beautiful spring here in NJ. My peonies and foxglove and iris are blooming profusely, and my cat entertains us with his annual boost of spring energy as well as doing double duty enduring our attentions not only for him but also for our recently deceased dog. That’s life.


the lion lies down with the lambs

In the midst of my grief and what seems like endless paperwork a friend sent this anonymous saying:
“Being happy doesn’t mean life is perfect.  It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections.”

So, I’ve returned to working on my Deborah Newton “Greenhouse tank” and to my large Nantucket basket.  I’m juggling my time visiting my mother and getting her new apartment furnished, searching for all the paper work to file my father’s taxes for last year, and getting ready for a week at Becky’s Vavstuga! If you want to follow the basket making procedures go to my basket link above.

Weaving Baskets…some progress

Nantucket purse (cherry), and small ebony Nantucket basket, both in progress


















I now have four basket projects in varying stages.  I need so much hand holding to make any progress that I fear none of these baskets will actually be finished any time soon.  Still, slowly, I’m learning a few things.

Here is one gem I  learned this week from my basket guru/teacher.  At home this month I had started weaving the ‘straight away’ on my Nantucket purse (on right in photo), and one quadrant of staves had begun to go off on an angle.  It was quite unsightly, drawing my eye right to the asymmetry of the weaving.  I was yanking hard to straighten those particular staves every time I came to that section of the basket, but it was not improving!  So I put the basket aside to wait for help from my teacher.  I thought she would tell me to un-weave, but she had a different suggestion!

It turns out I should never leave the basket ‘au naturel’ while I’m not working on it.  When I put it aside for any amount of time I should spray the staves with water, put on the heavy rubber bands, and then position all the staves as best I can.  The next time I weave those staves should stay straight, or certainly straighter.  At the end of weaving I spray and re-band for the next time.  It works!  I’m thrilled that I didn’t have to un-weave anything and that I’ve managed to keep the staves straighter now.  It’s certainly not a perfect basket, but I am happy with it!

I finished lashing on the rim of the  tiny Nantucket, but the day came to an end before I could attach the handle. Sigh... Why does time go so quickly at our monthly basket workshops?  I have the handle hardware assembled and waiting to be attached.  I don’t want to peen the handle rivets without some hand holding, so I just have to wait ’til June.

Lastly, I will spend some time this month shaping about 120 staves for a larger round Nantucket basket that I hope to weave while sailing in Maine this summer.  It occurred to me that weaving a basket could be a wonderful boat project.  However, due to my inexperience and lack of confidence, I want to have all the staves shaped and steam bent and in place around the base of the mold before I head off into the sunset to weave it by myself! I’ll start working on those staves today.

10" round Nantucket mold and "Japanese Wave Weave" covered vase













(Basket #4 is languishing, waiting for its rim.  It’s the tall cylinder that is a glass vase enclosed in basketry, woven with cane, waxed linen and beads in a pattern called Japanese Wave Weave.)

I really thank my stars that I have such a great teacher!