Uzbekistan Collection Started

I have just started on my intended new collection of work.

When we were in Uzbekistan we went to Nukus in the north of the country. There isn’t really much there apart from the Savitsky collection.

It hosts the world’s second largest collection of Russian avant garde art (after the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg). It is also home to one of the largest collections of archeological objects and folk, applied and contemporary art originating from Central Asia.

I loved some of the art work on show.

Here is a new Journal Quilt with the required half inch square of orange, featuring my daughter looking at the work. It is painted with little bits of applique. It is the first bit of painting I have done on any quilts for a while. I love it for lots of reasons.


Last weekend I was playing with cutting paper to make designs based on Suzani’s

Here is the first of several quilts to come – it’s quite big. Now it needs quilting. It was really just a bit of an experiment but has given me lots more ideas




More teaching more quilts

I seem, finally, to have a little bit of time to catch up, not to put my feet up, but to be able to reply to emails etc, and plan courses properly.

I made my Message quilt

The words say

“Embroidery is a reaffirmation of identity, a setting down of the past. Embroidery gives us a sense of belonging, connects us to our land and gives us an identity”

I found these words in a Palestinian embroidery book a couple of years ago and had them made into a thermofax screen. My friend Elisabeth kindly translated them for me.


I’ve been working on some small hand stitched projects and have been cutting felt hexagons to make small book covers and pin cushions

The hexagons are 3/4″ on each side


I saw this in a recent “Living”magazine, after I made mine. Not sure of the date of the magazine but maybe i am “on trend” with my work


I’ve done a little playing using some of my Israeli photos of the women in Bat Yam


This weekend I was teaching a residential retreat for Stitch Retreats in Leicestershire

It was great to be able to have so much time for students to play with my Interchange Applique technique (and the food and company was good too!)

Here are some photos of their work. i can see on the photos that some are missing.

Some fabulous work!


Beautiful sun rise one of the mornings


On the way down to Leicester I called in to see some friends and we went out for lunch. Such a treat to have some real Indian food – delicious!


Anne and I have been working on a sardines theme, although I had to stop, as other things seem to be more important. Here are some photos of Anne’s work, that she showed me. They are beautifully neat and very small compared to my quilts


Finally here is a new A3 quilt I have made today as a sample for the CQ Challenge.

More info to come later





Norwegian cruise

Dilemas, dilemas etc

I make almost all my quilts inspired by what I see around me. It can be people walking down the street or things i see in museums etc. Even if it is a pomegranate I usually try to buy one and draw it. I usually come home from my travels, and look through my photos and make a quilt, or a 3D item. They are my special memories.

So last year I was asked to teach on a Baltic Cruise next year, all sounded great, I’d been to Copenhagen, Tallinn, Helsinki etc and I had lots of quilts and lots of different techniques that I teach based on the quilts I had made.

Oh dear… the Baltic cruise was cancelled and I was invited to teach a Norwegian Cruise. Fantastic opportunity!

Challenge 1

I’ve never been to Norway but have always wanted to go.

Challenge no 2

Hand stitch only – no machines available

Challenge 3

My mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness in March of this year with 3-4 months to live

Challenge 4

She lived 3/4 hours drive away

Challenge 5

I had a very busy teaching schedule planned for April, May, June, July and August

So how was i going to respond to these challenges…..

Teaching preparation takes a lot of planning. The way I like to work is so important for me. Working from my own photos means , amongst other things – they are my photos, my quilts etc.

I like to teach students to look around them, I also like to teach students to design.

So with my head not quite in the right place I tried to adapt some of my Baltic cruise quilts for the Norwegian cruise but not very successfully.

So here is what I came up with…

One of the projects that will work well will be my Interchange applique. Students could make a reindeer head, rather than a pomegranate, or a turnip, but of course you could do a flower or a sausage dog or anything else.

There were great quilts made at the retreat in Leicestershire a couple of weekend ago. On the cruise you would be able to do the same.

I’ve had some lovely feedback from students who attended the course.


When i submitted my ideas I thought – I would have some more time to do some more samples – not a chance!

Last week I looked at the cruise website and went into panic….Oh no! it wasn’t right but not only that, the other teachers work looked amazing.

So I set to, with very little time I decided to make a Bergen or Norwegian inspired wall hanging / table runner

I looked at photos of houses in Bergen Old Town on Google.

Did some drawings on graph paper


Made a final pattern drawing and working at top speed, and making a terrible mess in my studio, made a quilt.


It will take 2 days to do all the applique, and can be hand stitched if we have time but can also be machine stitched back at home.



It is a lot of cutting and ironing, and there are plenty of options to change the design of the houses

Now I will beable to teach students to

  1. Look at the houses along the way on the cruise
  2. How to draw and design an original quilt – if they want to
  3. Change the colours if we see houses of different colours
  4. How to carry out the applique technique that i use in many of my quilts (this is different from the interchange technique)

It will need lots of Bondaweb and lots of different earthy colours of fabric

Some green and pale blue fabric for the hills and the sky

A large piece of background fabric to place it all on to

A good pair of sharp small scissors

Graph paper, and tracing paper if students wish to design their own piece

Pencil, pencil sharpener and baking parchment

The finished piece that I made is 140cm x 35 – so quite big and an ideal size for a table runner

On the other days we will be making “jumper blocks “and also a small mitten needle case



Here is a photo of a new idea that might add to the mittens course


It would be a nice continuation as it is made with felt as well

As always I have quick and unique ways of making something

I feel a little like I can relax now – I really do like my teaching to be right.

If you want more info on the cruise have a look at the website

It looks fabulous!

Check out the website

My new info may not be there yet or

Its in August of next year

I have finished writing up my project for Stitch magazine that needed to be done

Here is the Toran for the article






Laghmani Embroidery at Alsace

Last week i went to the 22nd European Patchwork Meeting at Sainte Marie Aux Mines in Alsace France. It was as always a fun occasion – i really go to see my friends, share experiences, drink wine and eat some good food. There were some fabulous quilts on show but my computer is full so i am struggling to post any photos of the quilts

One of the exhibitions I really enjoyed visiting was the Afghanistan collection of embroidery. It was appropriate as I was reading “The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul” by Deborah Rodriguez – now finished. Loved it!

I have met Pascale Goldenberg several times and have considered participating in one of the challenges to help promote the work she is doing in Afghanistan. I promised her I would write a blog post about her work

There are 200 embroiderers who embroider 8 cm squares to earn a living

More can be found on the website

You can see them in the background of her photo. She sets challenges that involve buying one of the squares and inserting into a small quilt and adding some more embroidery or quilting. They are then shown around Europe


Here are the ones I bought


So i am going to entry the Message competition – I have to include one of the squares and add some more embroidery. It must be in French and must include a messageimg_1523

This is the square I am going to useimg_1527

I promised to share this post to try to encourage more entries from the UK as there were none at the exhibition

Tomorrow I will add another post about some of the other exhibitions and share a couple of my new pieces of work – that’s if I can sort my computer out – or delete some of the many photos I have



Last Uzbek photos

Next we had to find somewhere to stay. Very few tourists go to fergana – there were some posh hotels and a homestay in an ex soviet block. Eventually we found Valentina’s a bed and breakfast place owned by an older Russian lady dressed in a very colourful sun dress with a silk flower in her hair hanging out of the window, beckoning us to come in

Kitch  decor, big bunches of silk flowers, shiny wall paper all for 15$ a night.

Showered and ready to go we walked to the bazaar or area where you can get a taxi to catch a shared taxi to the biggest market in the area that is only on on a Sunday and a Thursday.


We bought old silk, new Ikat cotton, China, plates, necklaces, rope etc

We looked at the guide book to see where to go for some food or a drink

Cafe Bravo

Here is the menu translated into English


The unexpected can happen when travelling. Everyone at the cafe seemed very friendly and their English was good.

One of the owners of the cafe came to chat to us – the word had got around that there were some English women in the cafe. There were no other tourists about.

He really wanted to practice his English

It was lovely we drank large glasses of beer for 40p listening to George Esra and Lady Gaga

A very pleasant evening

For our last day we planned an ambitious day

We met up with Aibek, his friend and driver took us to the silk factory, having potato Comsa’s for breakfast, then on to the Craft Centre in Margalan, back to Fergana for coffee and cake. We then took a taxi to Rishon to see the ceramics museum and on to Kokand


A lovely day and it was good to talk about life in Uzbekistan

–  most families eat at home

– meals seem to be bread based ( day old Bread seems to be ok if you like eating leather)

– bread is eaten with everything – it all looks good but tastes awful


– girls marry young are slim when they get married but soon become fat

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– food is disgusting most of the time – very fatty, very greasy and desperately needs some herbs and spices. Everything is meat based.

– there are fresh vegetables in the market so all the ingredients are there but the food is just so bad!



Salad is generally just sliced tomato and the odd bit of cucumber and sliced onion

So give me middle eastern Israeli food any day and I’ll pass on central Asian food!!

So with a very long taxi our trip came to an end

Another amazing trip!

Just a few thoughts

We travel very light, washing our clothes as we go. This gives us the freedom to carry our bags all day if need be. (It will be good to wear some different clothes this week)

Keep fit and you can travel like a teenager!

It cost very little, so I can go again and again

Have confidence, and trust your gut feeling


The people are so lovely and hospitable


It is such a police state it is so safe

The buildings are amazing

The craft work is everywhere

The hot weather just suits me

Internet is so so slow

Pattern is everywhere!!

So where next



I will be going to Norway teaching on  a cruise next July

Maybe Mexico?

Now I need to think, reflect, organise my photos, make some quilts, reorganise my website ……the list is endless….but on a cold dark night I will think of those beautiful days in Khiva and the colourful markets in Fergana, 

More Uzbekistan photos

On the third night we moved and treated ourselves to a a boutique hotel, with beautiful rooms. It was low season so there was plenty of space in the hotels and we were often the only ones there


Hotel Bibi Khanum – absolutely beautiful!

Owner speaks fluent English

Out of season means hot during the day but I did not find it too hot and it was very pleasant at night   – not too hot at all.

There are so many beautiful buildings and shops in Bukhara


We stumbled across a fabulous collection of ethnic textiles in a shop


More amazing buildings everywhere



More markets and street stalls


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It seems that everyone gets Ill in Uzbekistan –

We usually manage to eat lots of street food but the only street food to eat is a comsa – like a pasty. Sometimes delicious, sometimes leather like pastry.

So it was my turn – very very sick – serves me right really as the day before I had said I never got sick

The  next day the 7 hour taxi ride to Khiva on very bumpy roads was hard when you feel so sick!


Was Khiva really going to be worth going to?

We checked into another basic hotel. The room was cheap and it was clean. The breakfast bread stale, but the melon and eggs delicious.

In the hotel an older man the owner was slobbing around the hotel in his tracky bottoms but his son’s English was really good and he was keen to practice – he gave me some lessons on how to use my iPhone 6 – I love these travel moments.

Khiva is just beautiful and I took hundreds of photos – it is lovely – no cars – it felt like Khiva hadn’t changed much in 20 years


We spent a lovely day going around all the sights in Khiva. I had wanted to take the iconic picture of Khiva in the evening sun but the watch tower was closed for a special event. I’m happy with the photos I did take.

More markets etc




The next day we headed off in a taxi to Nukus with the usual taxi driver, driving very fast and no seat belts – that’s not true there are seat belts but no body chooses to use them and in the back seat it is impossible to find the catch. I was laughed at when I automatically put my seat belt on when I sat in the front.

The only reason for going to Nukus was to see the Savitsky collection. I was at first, a little disappointed as I had expected more ethnographic textiles however there is an amazing collection of Avant Guarde Russian art work there, and well worth visiting



Here are just some photos

Nukus is a god forsaken place – the reason for the collection being hidden there 

There is really nothing else in the town, Katie was feeling sick now so there was nothing else to do but sit and wait for our flight to Tashkent

It was about 37 degrees

Arriving into Tashkent at 23.00, we did the usual hassle for a taxi, checked into a trendy hostel that appeared to be in the middle of now where. The guy on the desk could speak very little English.


We set the alarm for 5.45 so that we could get the flight at 7.30 to Fergana

It all seems a good idea when booking it all.

Stepping out of the hostel at 6.00am we had no idea where we were, no one seemed to be about, we walked towards what seemed like a main road and eventually found a taxi.

The airport seemed a little closer that it had been a few hours earlier, – he had taken us to the International not the domestic airline! Another taxi and we arrived in time!

We arrived into Fergana with no money left. Lots of notes makes you think you have loads of money

Before we could do anything we needed some money, a taxi took us to the bazaar where the black market money exchangers usually are. They don’t really like pounds sterling but with a few phone calls and a little persuasion we managed always to exchange our money.

So many photos – more to come