Egyptian Inspiration and Textiles

Egyptian Inspiration and Textiles

First things first.  We are in Egypt!  Yup, you read that right.  More specifically, at this very moment, we’re floating on the Nile, taking in the sights as we make our way toward Luxor.  Everything about Egypt is inspiring, the history, the beauty, the art, the textiles, the carpets, the people… amazing.  I’ll give you a pictorial summary of our first few days, but I have to tell you a quick story, so you get the backdrop for this trip.

When Richard and I got married, we pissed off a lot of friends and family when we announced we were planning on getting married on Christmas day.  Talk about young and foolish.  But friends and family balked at that idea, so we scrapped it and settled for the winter equinox, which was December 22nd that year.  We then planned our honeymoon.  We decided we would spend xmas eve and xmas day in Jerusalem at the King David hotel, New Year’s Eve was going to be in Giza, overlooking the pyramids, then a cruise along the Nile, ending in a quick flight to Jordan to take in the sights of Petra. Did I mention our son was 9 months old when we got married?  Never ones to go with convention, we did things our way and then often would remark to each other later that “our” way wasn’t necessarily the best way and there was a reason people get married, take a honeymoon and THEN have children.  But I was in my later 30’s by the time we decided to have children, and planning a wedding took a back seat.  So there you have it.  Anyway, the intifada broke out about three months before our wedding and as we were traveling with a small child we were advised to scrap our plans.  (We had reserved everything, right down to the guides.) So we did.  We canceled everything and ended up going to Mexico where all three of us got really, really, really sick.  So sick. You have no idea how sick.  We referred to it as “the honeymoon from hell.” Except that I have great memories from that trip even so.  But we always wanted to try and recreate our planned honeymoon.  Years ago I was fortunate enough to be sent to Jerusalem to cover a conference, and Richard tagged along, so we were able to do that part, but we never did get to Egypt or Jordan, until now, more than two decades later.

Okay, now that you have the backstory, let’s get on with Egypt!

On the Nile in Edfu

Our Cabin (and the artistry of the staff) as we float along the Nile. Those are bottle caps for eyes, by the way.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I can’t write about Egypt and not show you a photograph of the pyramids.  So here you go.

The pyramids of Giza

And the camel ride that cannot be refused.

“Valentino, not the designer.”

Camels, or I should say, this camel was very sweet and friendly.  For some reason I had the idea that camels were ornery, like llamas, but I was mistaken.

And then there’s the sphinx.

The Sphinx

Outside the Egyptian Museum where 2/3 of the collection has already been moved to the new museum still being built.  And yet, it was still overwhelming!

Look at this cloth!

Embroidered Cloth

And this one, which is perhaps my favorite.

Indigo Cloth

The internet is spotty out here on the Nile, so I’m just going to end with a few more photographs.  More to come when I get the chance.

Abu Simbel

Ancient Graffiti

This last was one of my favorites.  I fell in love with the “graffiti” that peppers the temples.  This one is from around 300 BC.  Think about that.  It gave me all sorts of ideas for my next workshop, which I’ve already roped my friend, Pat Pauly into making linen fabric kits for.  More on that in a few weeks!

Onwards to Luxor!

Controlling What You Can

Controlling What You Can

Today’s morning reading excerpt:

“While you don’t control external events, you retain the ability to decide how you respond to those events. You control what every external event means to you personally.”

The Daily Stoic

When we returned from Africa, I had a livestream scheduled for the next day and a Zoom meeting that couldn’t be rescheduled shortly after that.  As my computer had crashed and then been wiped out while in Africa, I really, really needed to get it working again or get a new computer, which is no small undertaking, especially if you’re someone like me who is basically computer illiterate and the very idea of migrating information leaves me in a cold sweat.  So I went to the nearest Apple store only to be told that basically I should hold on to the computer I had and try to migrate from my time machine. Only my time machine hadn’t backed up since last April.  WHAT????  I know, I know.  Evidently time machines need to be periodically checked to be sure they’ve backed up and do not always do so automatically.  News to me.  

So I went home and backed it up and then had endless problems resulting in tons of phone calls with various tech people, as well as realizing how much information I had lost, and then in the midst of all of this I was overcome with a combination panic attack, grief (my mother had just died) and despair; I went into our bathroom and sobbed.  To say I “cried” wouldn’t do it justice. It was more a cross between a howl and uncontrollable sobbing.

“While you don’t control external events, you retain the ability to decide how you respond to those events. You control what every external event means to you personally.”

And that was the thing. I was taking all of this personally. The computer, my mother, jet lag, grief, panic… All of it felt like an assault on me.  But it wasn’t personal. It was life. So I’m trying hard to remember that. It’s easy to remember when things are going along as I expect them to or when things happen that are unexpected, but are welcome events.  It’s much more challenging to remember when things happen that I don’t like or want.

And yet, here I am writing this post on my new laptop, which has taken some adjustments and came with it’s own set of challenges, typing away!

I’m teaching my last workshop, Improvisational Stitching, of the year and am making new Youtube stitching videos and am getting back to creating and incorporating my travels into my latest piece. I can feel my energy returning little by little.

As long as I don’t take things personally, I’ve got this.

Oh, and look!!! Remember I said I so regretted not purchasing some Kuba bark cloth while in Africa, but that I remembered there was a guy who sells African fabrics on the street?  Well over the weekend, I found him and here are the pieces I got from him.  This first was badly damaged, but I was able to repair it and even figured out and copied the stitch originally used to stitch the seams together.

Bark Cloth From The Democratic Republic of Congo

And look at this one!!  I just love the colors, all natural dyes, made in The DRC.

Kuba Cloth

And finally this one, which is by far the most typical, from what I’ve seen.

Hand Stitched Kuba Cloth made from raffia, hand dyed and sewn from the Democratic Republic of Congo

And here is my improvisational stitching piece where I’ve begun incorporating some of the things I saw and loved while in Africa using Pat Pauly hand dyed linen.

African Inspired

Pat Pauly and Inspiration

Pat Pauly and Inspiration

First things first… Pat Pauly!  I just posted my interview with Pat Pauly on my YouTube channel.  For those of you who may not be familiar with Pat, she is a brilliant, multi-talented artist, who also hand paints and dyes fabrics that she sells on her website, is a sought after teacher and does the most beautiful art quilts.

Pat’s hand dyed linens are what I’ve been using exclusively for my latest improvisational stitching pieces.  They are unlike, and far superior to anything I’ve found anywhere else and are endlessly inspiring.

My improvisational stitching using Pat Pauly’s hand dyed linens.


Improvisational Stitching piece using Pat Pauly’s hand dyed linens and inspired by my Africa trip.

If these pieces are interesting to you, you should consider enrolling in my Improvisational Stitching Class, which meets for 5 consecutive Saturdays beginning Saturday, September 25th.  In this workshop I cover the elements of design, use of color, incorporating other elements into the background, using things that inspire us and making them apart of our work, creating abstract as well as representational elements into a piece, finding which threads and stitches to use to create different effects and so much more.


MRI’s & Inspiration for Stitching

MRI’s & Inspiration for Stitching

Yesterday I had to have an MRI because I’ve been getting headaches that often wake me in the middle of the night. I was quite sure I was fine, but it’s a precaution and being an adult and all, it seemed the responsible thing to do. So off I went feeling I’d prepared myself adequately. I don’t care for small, enclosed spaces, so I knew I was going to need to practice breathing and asked for something to put under my knees so my back didn’t begin to hurt. I believed I was on top of the situation and lay down, dutifully putting the ear plugs in and began counting my breath. Except once I was in the machine, I could feel my jaw shaking. As in uncontrollably and I was so freaked out that my jaw was doing this weird thing that I seemed to have no control over, I became convinced that it was so bad it would make my head move and ruin the imaging, which only made it worse. It took everything in me to breathe in and out, count my breath and eventually my jaw calmed down.

The upshot of the whole thing is that I’m fine. Perfectly fine. My neurologist called yesterday evening to tell me all looks well, “for someone your age” which of course gave me pause. “What does that mean?” I asked a bit defensively. He explained that you expect to see a few tiny white dots in “someone my age” and that this is also common in those who experience migraines. Evidently I have a couple of those white dots and also a tiny cyst, which is not in my brain at all, and is about 4mm. So another MRI in about a year to make sure that doesn’t grow. All in all the news is excellent and blood work is all good too. Whew. I knew I was as healthy as a horse.

After I returned home the skies opened up and the rain came down like some sort of end of the world scenario. That was when I decided to do a livestream, which you can see here if you care to.

And then I had to do a lot of work on my website, so I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening writing copy, learning how to input new workshops into my workshop schedule and create images for the workshops.

Every now and then when I needed a break I’d work on the piece below, which I’ve fallen in love with and that is inspired by plant and human cells. Pinterest is great for finding amazing images of organisms, cells and plant life that have been put under a microscope. I have a whole board where I’m saving such images.

This piece I’ve added some of my hand dyed t-shirting to and then stitched on top of it. It’s very relaxing.

My mother and two of my brothers are scientists: a chemist, an astro physicist and a bio-chemist. I was never very good at science, but I do love looking at the microscopic images of organisms and cells. They are things of such exquisite beauty.

The photograph below is of a coronary blood clot, horrible, but if you remove what it IS and just view it as an image, it is incredible.

Coronary blood clot. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a blood clot (thrombus) in the coronary artery, showing red blood cells (purple) in a fibrin mesh (threads). Magnification: x2500, when printed 10cm wide.
This is a microscopic image of a cactus (I think). Amazing.

Which took me to viewing images of brain cells. Talk about inspiration!

Microscopic image of neurons
Amazing, right?!

There is beauty in just about anything if looked at through a different lens. ❤️

Inspiration is Everywhere

Inspiration is Everywhere

A number of people expressed interest in seeing the pieces I use to illustrate a particular stitch I’m demonstrating during my YouTube videos. As I’m showing how to do a stitch, the camera is focused on my stitching, and doesn’t pull back enough to see more than a few inches of the piece I’m working on, so I made a “Studio Tour” video.

Which got me thinking about the other question I get a lot of, “Where do you find your inspiration?”

And the answer to that is – everywhere.

What follows are a few things that have inspired me over the last few weeks. I’ve included a couple of quick tours of buildings that caught my eye on a recent stroll I took with my husband a few days ago. These are just random buildings that we pass all the time as we walk about our beautiful city. Inspiration is literally around every corner. Welcome to the beauty and inspiration of Manhattan!

This is the cheesecake I made for our very small family dinner on Easter Sunday. It reminds me of the Raised Cup Stitch. The recipe is from my mother. I cannot remember where she got it from. Perhaps she will remind me!
The beautiful iron work grill above a doorway right around the corner from where I live in Manhattan.
One of thousands – a building’s facade reminding me to look up!
Built in 1906, I couldn’t find out anything more about what this building once was; it is now an office building.
Built in 1900, this building was originally a button factory. But look at those lion’s heads. Amazing.