Wednesday, August 24, 2022


                    Freelance Writer, Fiber Artist and Hand Spinning Teacher,

Debbie Held's handspun yarns captured me immediately when I saw an article of hers on the internet sight of Spin Off

I just knew I wanted a skein of her magic so I contacted her and we were off to the races.  She had me look thru her stash of unspun fibers and pick a color way that spoke to me.

She was so easy to work with and so very knowledgeable about animal fibers,
yarn plies, tweedy nubs, gradients versus fractural spins,
the list was long. 
And tah dah!
I couldn't be more thrilled with her finished creation,
all made to my specifications.

This colorway is called Outback in Bloom
The fiber is baby camel/silk (50/50).
  Deborah says it's probably the most luxurious blend out there with astonishing luster and drape.
I didn't realize this because I basically picked it for its astonishing colors.
I asked her for a Sport Weight yarn so she chain plied it and it's ideal for something lacy like a cowl or shawl/scarf.
So right now I'm on the hunt for the perfect pattern. 
And it must be touched everyday,
several times a day,
So I have it sitting right next to me on my desk.
I'm super excited to see and read more about Deb's work in this Fall's Issue of Spin Off Magazine.
I've also had her put me on her mailing list for classes that she teaches both Stateside as well as Internationally.
I'm so hoping she will come to the So.Cal. to teach at my studio.
This Fall she is headed to Scotland to teach at the Daedalus Fly-In this next spring.
She has also taught at the N.Y Sheep and Wool Festival (Rhinebeck),
 for Majacraft's New Zealand Retreat, and in Manchester, England. 
She hails from Atlanta, Georgia and also teaches classes for Sweet Georgia Yarns
in Vancouver BC, Canada.
Fall Issue of Spin off is now available.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022


A few of my grandpets.
Meet Smoothie.. all grown up
and out of control.
A rescue found under my son's house.
Smooth lets Zach manhandle him as much as he wants and loves the attention.

Poor four year old Granger
 who will let my daughter dress him up for all events.

Sweet Tatum (a rescue who is 3 now) and Piper (another rescue).
Tat thinks Piper was her baby from the first day she came home.

The gang exhausted from the heat wave we are having here in the So.Cal.

And mom putting us to bed.

And the best greeting you are ever going to get!
You know you are welcome here.

They are my heart.

Sunday, August 7, 2022


your new journey begins today!!
I'm so incredibly proud of you
 and all the hard work you put into getting here.

Let me introduce to you the brand new,
 full time Ceramics teacher at Chino Hills High School,
home of the Huskies!
Mrs. Morales

Alyssa fell in love with clay 
when she took her first Ceramics I class with me in 2011 as a junior
at Whitney.
Yes Huskies,
this is your teacher in High School creating her nude coil torso in Ceramics II
her senior year.
If you enter her name in the search engine upper left as Alyssa Olea,
 you can see many of her clay pieces she created in her 2 years at Whitney,
as well as all the AMAZING art displays she hung for me as my T.A, 
also in her senior year.

Then for several years after from the Fall of 2012 
to when I retired in the Summer of 2019,
 she worked for me as my Art Assistant 
two days a week while attending college 
and working a second job for her dad's company. 
This is Alyssa and I at her Senior High School Graduation in 2012.

And during that time as my Art Assistant,
 she married the love of her life
and High School sweetheart,
Lucian Morales.

Here we are together at her beautiful wedding.

Alyssa completed her B.A., her Teaching Credential 
as well as her Student Teaching
during Covid which made it extra challenging.
She taught Art this summer at a private high school 
while she applied for teaching jobs for this Fall around the So. Cal. area.
She was hired a couple of weeks ago,
her super chill yet inquisitive Principal giving me a call to find out all about her.
Of course I gave Alyssa a glowing recommendation
and he  hired her the very next day.
Woo Hoo!!!

So this past Thursday I drove out to see her in her new classroom
and offer any help in setting things up.
I was not prepared for the exceptional Ceramics room they have built there.
It's even nicer than my college clay classrooms
with everything she will ever possibly need.
Let me show you...
Two views of how spacious the room is,
the natural lighting,
 plus stairs leading up to the other two art rooms.
How cool is that??
and you can see her office space too by the flag.

Four electric potter's wheels
and at least 20 or more kick wheels spread not just here but around the room
with hose bib, drains and hoses to clean the clay dust off the floors.
And of course she has built in clay dust fans and filters for the air ducts.
Also a big old slab roller and coil extruder.
And get this,
at least 10 deep sinks that I counted, all with clay traps.
I only ever had 2 sinks for 36 kids per class.
It was pretty tricky at clean up time.

This is an incredibly large clay recycling room complete with a pug mill 
and several wedging tables and additional storage.
And the next room below is a drying room
and another room not shown is a huge damp room.
And best of all an outdoor kiln area that is secure and fenced in.
She's even got a large Gas Kiln that can fire to Cone 10
along with two electric kilns and a Raku Kiln.
What a lucky ducky she is!!!!!

Alyssa I'm so thrilled for you!
In all my days I've never been in a nicer or more complete Ceramics facility.
And I'd be delighted to be your Assistant anytime you need me.
Free of charge!!

Good Luck today.
Know I will be thinking of you all day long.
Love you to the Moon and Back!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2022


A multi-colored Baby Rose that is now over 4 feet tall on our Condo patio
growing thru a small Birch that is holding it up.

A double lily at Cabin.

A surprise Lily in the Cabin's wishing well
that I had forgotten about.

Fever Few that came up from a handful of seeds from the year before at cabin.

Baby Fourth of July Roses at Cabin climbing up 
vintage window pane (above and below)
at least 5 feet tall.

A first year Lily at cabin.

A lovely Rose my son bought me for Xmas 
(above and below) that has been blooming all summer on condo patio.

Amaryllis blubs put into the common area at Condo
(a big no-no).
These were the ones I bought at Home Depot the Xmas before.
They came in their own boxes and are supposed to bloom at Xmas
which they did last year.
But I moved them into the ground and they just re-bloomed recently.

An incredible Bougainvillea bush on my daily walk.

Condo patio with Geraniums in bloom.
The light pink one was a gift from Mary about three Thanksgivings ago.
She simply broke off a stem from her own plant 
and told me to put it in a pot and water it.
It took and has been flowering ever since.
I have since discovered you can do this with any Geranium
and have since rooted at least 9 different varieties,
two of which have a citronella scent that keeps mosquitos away.

My daughter Danielle's Rose bushes (above and below) at her Condo.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these blooms I surround myself with.
I'm so grateful to my mom and Aunt Elena
for teaching and passing on to me their green thumbs.
I was very lucky to grow up with these two amazing women
who surrounded me not only with unconditional love,
 but with fruit trees of every kind, vegie gardens every summer,
a greenhouse full of stag horn ferns and orchids, a huge rose garden,
palm trees with orchids growing out of their trunks that mom brought back from Hawaii, the orchids that is, a cacti and succulent garden, and so much more.
And bulbs which have always been a favorite. 
My son Zach was lucky enough to have my Mother and Aunt
as his day care for the first 5 years of his life.
Aunt Elena drove in once a week to take care of Zach in our home.
 Mom had him in her glorious gardens 4 days a week at the home I grew up in,
 and then later in her Mobile Home where they created a garden together.
Thus we have a Plant Science Major in the family,
who has traveled the world for both Dole and Red Bull. 
And who with his wife are taking their backyard to a whole other level.

Three years ago when they purchased this home in Winnetka
which is in the San Fernando Valley,
they took out all the dead grass and weeds,
created several walkways,
and began to plant fruit trees, 
native California plants that are drought tolerant,
plants for butterflies and bees,
vegies scattered throughout,
and whatever else caught their fancy.
I believe this pix is from about 2 years ago.
They are still deciding what material to use in the pathways.
Of course I have a few suggestions involving artsy fartsy ideas.
We shall see. 
This clematis is now growing across their back fence along with several other colorful climbers.
And I've forgotten what this unusual yellow stalk is called,
but it's super interesting and a bit strange.
And the sweet, delicate flowers below came up from seeds.
 At first we thought they were a weed,
but we let them go and now are a pollinator for bees,
a California native.

My daughter was not as fortunate in her gardening lessons
because Mom and Aunt Elena were aging.
They each did one day a week at our home.
 Dani was with a nanny 3 days a week,
but she has a great interest in learning to garden 
after she and boyfriend bought a home together.
Now most of her days off you will find her in the garden section at Home Depot.
It makes my heart feel so full 
that both of my babies are getting their hands in the dirt.
They are continuing the legacy that my grandfather Benny brought at age 18 
to America from his family's Olive Oil plantation in Palermo, Sicily
which is still going strong today. 
My cousin and her son traveled to Sicily this year to introduce themselves 
and visit cousins in the Olive Oil Warehouses there.
On my bucket list.

Friday, July 8, 2022


My daughter-in-law Nicole, her mother Mary an my son Zach
during Mary's first chemo treatments in June 2016

It is with deepest sadness that I share the passing of my dear friend Mary,
mother-in-law to my son Zach.
She has been in the battle of her life for the past 6 years
with a nasty form of un-curable stomach cancer,
the doctor giving her hope that at the most 
she might last 10 more years with this form of cancer.
In each of the past 6 years,
 chemo was tried,
and she'd go into a few months of remission.
She'd lose all her hair,
 and then her cancer would rear it's ugly head 
and come back with less and less time in between treatments.
If I remember correctly,
her longest remission after her first treatment was 13 months.
But this past year was the absolute worst.
Finding none of the regular chemo drugs working anymore 
to get her a few months of relief,
they tried a new clinical trial drug which pretty much decimated her body,
and took her to skin and bones.
She couldn't keep any food down and her stomach had to be pumped every 2-3 weeks with fluid build-up.
But if you didn't know her,
you'd never suspect there was a thing wrong with her,
other then her rapid weight lose.
She was determined to beating this 
and living at least the possible 10 years after her terminal diagnosis.

Mary Rock Climbing into a Cave in Las Vergennes Canyon in May 2017
after 1st Chemo treatment

Mary was a 6 foot tall,
 incredibly strong woman.
An athlete;
 jogger, hiker, swimmer, and renown yoga instructor.
A crafter of needlepoint and quilts with an incredible eye for design,
along with her impeccable craftsmanship.
A leader and generous giver to her Quilt Community and Church.
A fantastic cook,
 she passed down her recipes and skills in the kitchen
 to both of her children as well as my son.
An expert on salt water aquariums,
who maintained a large one until a couple of months ago,
and a cat lover and rescue mama to 3 sweet kitties.

This last year, 
on the clinical trial drug,
Mary shrank down to,
 at the most,
  80 pounds on her ravaged body.
she stayed so very strong for one more Thanksgiving, 
Xmas and Easter,
 helping her daughter Nicole,
 along with Zach, 
prepare and cook all the food for each occasion.
She loved to entertain,
loved being surrounded by family and friends,
and loved sharing hysterical stories about her growing up years!
But she finally allowed her daughter to cook for her this last Mother's Day.
As ill as she was,
she even traveled by air twice this past year with her husband Nick 
to visit their son, his wife & their first grandchild in Texas.
And Mary was still hand piecing her last quilt pattern every single night 
until the day she died,
trying to beat the clock to finish it.

Mary in December 2020 after 4 years of Chemo Treatments

A lover of nature,
she was a gardener extraordinaire.
She created the most beautiful garden oasis in both front and back yards,
in the very scorching hot climate of the San Fernando Valley.
A couple of days before she left us,
 she was still driving herself to the garden store
to buy plants for her yard.
But this past weekend put her in the hospital for a night of severe vomiting,
and her family knew she was getting close.
She didn't want to stay there so Nick brought her home,
bringing in a hospice nurse,
and her entire family flew in to say good-bye.

A child of the 50's, a teenager in the 60's and a free spirit in the 1970's,
 Mary was the eldest of 7 siblings,
a child of Dutch immigrants,
and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
She left home at 17 and put herself thru hair college,
while working several jobs to pay her bills.
Did I mention what a strong willed, determined woman she was??

After marrying Nick in 1979,
Mary became a Navy wife.
They raised 2 children,
Jordan and Nicole,
  living in several different parts of the country,
all Naval bases in beautiful port cities.
I believe Annapolis was her favorite in Maryland.
Nick would be gone for months commanding a Nuclear Submarine
and Mary became a very strong independent parent.

(Mary 4 years into her Cancer on a river boat adventure with Nick thru her native homeland of Holland)

This past weekend, as weak as she was,
she was still trying to entertain her siblings with food 
as they all flew in to say good-bye.
 I think it really sapped her remaining strength.
Monday late morning my son texted me and reported that she was failing quickly.
I was supposed to do the a.m. watch Monday nite
so my bags were already packed and I drove up to the Valley.
I got there around 3 p.m. and by 5:20 she was gone.
It was so heartbreaking to say good-bye
 but she was surrounded by love.
Held closely in her husband's arms of 43 years,
he whispered his love and good-byes.
Her daughter on her other side resting her head on Mary's shoulder
and holding her hand,
my son kneeling in front of her with his hand resting on her knee,
 and her son on the cell perched on his dad's leg,
telling her what a wonderful mother she was 
and how much he loved her.
She looked so very beautiful at the end as peace came to her.
We will all miss her dearly.

(Mary the first year I met her in 2012)

Until we meet again dear Mary.

An aside.
This was written on May 24th 
but I didn't have all the pix I wanted to include until recently.
Mary left us on May 16, 2022,
and is buried on the most beautiful hill under a shade tree.
 A lovely cemetery in the Santa Suzanna pass surrounded by large boulders 
where the Hollywood Westerns were filmed.
There is a 4-5 mile trail thru those rocks 
that we are planning to hike thru in memory of Mary.
Her spirit will be with us.

Sunday, June 5, 2022


A few weeks ago I showed this wheel from an ex student,
 missing some parts and in need of some tender loving care.
My husband and I took most of it apart,
and I gave it a good rubbing and cleaning with linseed oil.
My husband fabricated the parts of the treadle that were missing
and we put it back together again.
Then of course I had to give it a test drive.
I used some beautifully soft and clean Blue Faced Leister roving
from Capistrano Fiber Arts and the old gal is as good as new.

Now I think I'll mordant the skein and put it in a solar dye jar with some lovely pink and purple fushias I've been saving.
Have never dyed with those before.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022


It's been awhile since I've laid eyes on this Kaleidoscope Cardi,
pattern by Knit Collage.  
I was searching for something else recently and found this instead.
I'd forgotten how much I loved it 3 years ago when I weighted 25 pds. less.
So guess what,
I really want to finish it and loose the weight so I can wear it.
This last month I've been trying to loose some pounds,
even before I found this.
Now keep in mind,
I'm always trying to loose weight.
It's my life.
I've tried fasting, weight lifting, cardio, eating way better,
but nothing has been working like it used to when I was teaching 
and never, ever sat down all day.
So a friend at the gym who recently lost a ton of weight shared his secret.
Walking, counting steps and caloric deficient.
Well I was already doing all those things.
He simple said you aren't doing enough walking.
And he was right!
He said you have to do at least 15,000 steps a day,
Eat all the vegies and fruit you want,
and cut back to only 2 meals a day.
Plus continue to lift weights at gym along with sit-ups and leg lifts.
I was averaging between 6000 to 10,000 steps in retirement,
so about a month ago I really picked up my pace.
My children set me up with Audible (books on tape) for my birthday,
headphones and a fanny pack.
And now I'm averaging between 12,000 and 15,000 steps a day
and have lost 6 pds. that I'm managing to miraculously keep off. 
I'm even trying to pick up the pace more by doing a little bit of jogging,
plus lots of hills.
People are starting to notice 
that my upper arms, butt and thighs are looking slimmer.
But where I'm really noticing it is in my upper stomach,
right under my breasts which no one will ever see again.
I can't tell you how excited I am.
I'm even noticing that I'm standing taller and feeling lighter on my feet,
and it feels so good.
The down side is it takes a chunk of time from my day and evening.
And discipline,
lots of discipline!
I'll let you know how it goes.

Are you wondering if I allow myself a cheat day?
You betcha.
One day a week I get one scoop of ice cream
but I keep on truckin' on that day as well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022


Almost finished with Shorty Sock #1 from the skeins you saw spun up in last post.
 these spinning batts came from Lindsey at Artifacts of Appreciation 
as well as her pattern for Shorty Socks.
I learned two new techniques:
a twisted 1 by 1 rib for the cuff,
 and a Dutch Heel Turn.  
Loved the new heel turn technique but hated the twisted ribbing.
The heel turn adds a bit of extra fiber for wear,
but the twisted rib,
well it was twisted
 and hard to get my needle point into each stitch to knit and purl
thru the back of every stitch.
But ohhh does it look nice!

For the cuff I used the dyed BFL/Silk braid spun and plied on itself.
For body of sock Lindsey's spun batts plied on themselves,
and for the heel,
the braid spun and plied with Lindsey's batts.

What I wasn't pleased with is the irregular stripping of sock body batts.
So for the second sock I'm going to experiment more with mixing the 5 batts up more frequently as I spin.
Not super concerned that they won't exactly match when knitted up,
since they are just to wear around the house in the evenings.

At the same time 
(because I have to have at least 10 or more projects going on at one time),
I'm restoring this older spinning wheel which was donated to me by 3-D art student and Alumni Rachel Strong.
Trying to remember when she graduated,
sometime in the early1990's I believe.
She was one of my Crafts superstars back in the day 
and really loved spinning her own yarn.
So her parents bought her this Ashford wheel 
to take with her to Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.
After she graduated,
 it came back home with her to Cypress, Ca. 
where she volunteered her time in several Elementary schools 
showing the kids the how-tos of spinning.
But of course life got too busy for her to spin,
a child as well as the Owner/Dance instructor of her own Strong Dance Studio.
Needless to say this wheel has some history behind it.
It was stored in my kiln room 
(which was always a big mess about to be cleaned up type of a place)
for many years and has since lost some of its parts,
namely a Footman and it's Treadle.
But with the help of my husband 
I'm pretty sure we could fabricate those,
 anyone out there has any other ideas?
I just finished gluing up the bottom of the Mother of All
so I'm pretty excited about that.
And have watched a few videos about taking the wheel completely apart
to de-rust and restore parts and finishes.
I can do this!
After all,
I put my first Ashford together 40+ years ago from scratch,
by myself,
and it only took me a full day.