Tag Archives: Cuenca Ecuador Quilting fabric

Chickens & October Quilting in Cuenca, Ecuador

Chickens & October Quilting in Cuenca, Ecuador

I have always loved the month of October. In the United States, deciduous trees change color and firey gold leaves come tumbling down on rifs of crisp air. The poplars and alders in the gorge turn into torches scattered along the cliffs. High in the Andes Mountains, where I live in Cuenca, Ecuador, the weather turns a little warmer with hot sun mid day and chilly nights. Many flowers bloom all year long here. Hummingbirds and finches are nesting again in our garden. It is a fabulous month!

Many of the succulents in our garden are blooming.photo 1 (27)photo 2 (25)photo 3 (8)


I have been working to complete a large lap quilt I call Mud Slide due to the earthy color scheme.  I am machine quilting each block now.  I am about half through machine quilting.  Whew – it is a lot of work!

photo 3 (6)


I have been using some metalic threads, taking my time,  improving my technique, making mistakes, learning…always learning.

photo 2 (23)

A feathered star stitch in the center of each flower anchors the 4.5″ squares.

photo 1 (25)The silver thread barely shows – a subtle touch in a fairly muted quilt.


Yesterday, I could not find some fabric I’ve been gathering to make wall hangings of chickens.  I turned my studio upside down but I finally found this little collection of fabric. photo 1 (26)

And here is the first “square in a square” 12 inch block laid on two different fabrics to audition sashing fabric.

photo 2 (24)photo 3 (7)I hope you are enjoying some beautiful weather wherever you are in this great world.

What do you like about October?

Do you have a favorite geographic spot you visit at diffrent times of the year?

Have a great time exploring this new month!photo (64)



Starting a new quilt as a summer project


When I visited the US recently, I had the joy of buying new fabric to bring back to Ecuador where there are virtually no 100% quilting cottons.

This week, I feel ready to start a new project.  I have plenty of quilts partly sewn.  But it is more fun to start something new right now.

photo 2 (9)

The fabric colors I’m using are salmon, bright white, taupe/gray/brown with other colors added for contrast.

photo 1 (10)

In the middle of the photo above, you can see the pattern and a photo of a quilt in similar colors. The pattern is a new one to me: Jumping Jacks.  I’m making a lap size 55 x 63 or so. You can download the pdf at connectingthreads.com   if you wish to buy the pattern.

Getting new patterns this way is wonderful for me since I live in Ecuador where it is challenging to get things shipped to you.  So anything that can be done on the computer with a good printer is a great thing.  My friend Judi printed out the pattern in color.  Much easier to work from than the black and white my printer does.

Speaking of Judi, a wonderful closed group developed here in Cuenca among some ex-pats who quilt.  We started a small group – not to sew together – too hard to move machines and no space easily available.  But to talk about quilting, share patterns, look for resources together, etc.  It is wonderful to see this group developing its own personality.  There are not many active quilters here so I really appreciate this development.

OK, its time to go cut more fabric.  This pattern uses about 2 million 3 1/2″ squares.  All for now!

Best place to hide for a nap!

Best place to hide for a nap!



One goal: live freshly and simply

One goal: live freshly and simply

Quote by

  • Eleanor Roosevelt
    “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

photo (35)

At the age of 64, my goal became more clearly: to prepare fresh, natural foods in my own home.  No packaged stuff.  Go to restaurants rarely. I feel better if I eat a little fish or chicken, lots of fresh vegetables, small amounts of a great variety of fruits. I make almost everything I eat myself, leaving out the things that cause inflammation and irritates arthritis/fibromyalgia, such as wheat sugar or caffeine.  ~~~Good goal.~~~  Sometimes hard to achieve.

photo (31)

Things are not very difficult here: organic markets offer cheaper, fresher produce,

I am retired so I have time to prepare healthy food,

but of course planning, planning, planning is required all the time.

Another “fresh and simple lifestyle” goal is to interrupt the “consume-consume-consume” obsession that is a way of life in the US. People LOVE to buy cosas – things – whether they are really needed or not.  Ask yourself: do I really need this?  Wait 24-48 hours and see if you still need it so badly.

A women who writes on another blog  radicalfarmwives.com  shared this:

“People’s lives get woven together.  The influence of our parents, partners, children, and friends all get bound, tight or loose, smooth or bumpy, together into the fabric that becomes our life.”

I love those thoughts.  Life is fluid, changing, moving like a river.  You can stand on the side and passively watch the river flow …or you can jump into the swirling current and swim with the whole experience.  What’s it going to be?  What do you feel like doing today?  Keep things simple.  Pare down and trim to your most important, treasured activities.  Make strokes to simplify your life while treasuring each moment you can.  Each interaction.  Each glimpse of nature or art.  Experience your world!

photo (34)




Dance by yourself in the moonlight!

photo (32)

One of my treasured activities has become “an active meditation “for me: quilting.

The process of laying out a piece of fabric, smoothing out the folds, cutting off the edges, trimming to create, pinning to sew, seeing each small creation and happily anticipating what the whole will look like. Sure, some days the thread tension is off on my borrowed machine, there are times when a block I make looks crooked and I have to rip the seams out – I HATE that.  But ripping seams is part of the rhythm of live.  Breathe.  Resew straight seams and accept some crooked ones.  Move on in the process of  your life.  You get a chance to “do over” the things you don’t feel good about, if you have the courage to take it.



LIVE each day, even in quiet, simple ways. A deep breath exhaled slowly.  A moment to admire the texture of a flower.  The feel of warm water streaming over your hands.

Have a great new week!

Marvelous days for quilting, Cuenca, Ecuador

Marvelous days for quilting, Cuenca, Ecuador

Cups Cups Cups!Queen size quilt topLast week was a wonderful week for me!  I invited people I know to an open house to see the quilts I have made recently.  My friend, Teresa D., hung them with me.  We worked HARD getting this ready.  We put up 11 quilts .

Since several people are not quilters, I also created several steps demonstrating how a quilt is made, using projects that are “in the works” laid out on different small tables. Over two afternoons, about 45 people came by to take a look and offer opinions and encouragement.  Voted most popular quilt was “Crazy Cats”, a whimsical paper-pieced wall hanging I completed summer of 2013.

IMG_0184 (1)

The house looks wonderful with these creations warming the walls. Teresa is also the friend who loaned me her machine when my Pfaff broke.  I continue to borrow her machine until May, when I am taking the Pfaff to the US to be cleaned and repaired. I have not found a trained technician here to work on a Pfaff.  Living in Cuenca has a couple of downsides.  A trained Pfaff technician is a hard thing to find in Ecuador!

Here are some photos of the quilts hanging in the home I share with my wonderful husband, Lenny. Life is good!

IMG_0181 (1)

Thanks for reading my blog!

Happy quilting!

Cuenca Gluten-Free Users Group to begin in July


If you are eating gluten-free: no rye, barley or wheat, also known as wheat-free,and you’d be interested in attending a group to discuss how to live gluten-free in Cuenca, EC.   Please contact me by email to let me know of your interest. Attend once to check it out. ( use email given below).

I plan to host a monthly “Gluten-Free Users Group” . I will provide the space, coffee and tea. There will be no charge for a person’s initial visit to the group. There will be a $5 charge after the initial visit.  The group is planned to be 90 min long.  It may start out small… but I have heard from several people who are gf and are new to Cuenca, as well as some “longer time here” people who would like the supportive sharing that this could provide.  Some of the goals are
– to share resources
– to discuss ordering your favorite gf products using the shipping service Correos
– to provide some social connection, as desired
– to see if there is interest and enough support for talking with the buyers for Super Maxi to ask if they would import/carry some gf products.  More voices carry more weight.
– other ideas from attendees

We can discuss wishes at the first couple of meetings.  There are more people trying to eat gluten free in Cuenca than you would expect!

Coconut rice and fish

I am thinking to have the  first meeting during the first half of July, 2012. Let me know if you are interested and I will email you with more info.
my email for this purpose:   sharonm517@yahoo.com

What are your favorite gluten free cookbooks or recipes?  Cuenca restaurants where you feel safe ordering?

Have a delightful new week!  Sharon

Why is there GUILT?


Cups Cups Cups!

Someone asked me why I associate guilt with quilting, a hobby I love.  I discussed this a  little bit a while back but here is more from my pot of thoughts.  So here goes: Quilting has become a form of meditation, as I mentioned before.  An active meditation when I am most absorbed…it takes me away from everyday thoughts of news stories and worrisome things and situations over which I have no control.

With quilting, there is always more fabric to see, there are more patterns to examine and…more recently, many for me to design.  There is math to sort out regarding the size and shape of a project.  There is the focus of color to use.  There is who it might be for or which wall it might grace.  For me, a quilt usually begins with color.  I love looking at fabrics to see different designs and combinations. The rest unfolds like the “focus fabric” from which it is made.   Definition=focus fabric is the main fabric around which a quilt is designed.  It is often used as a border fabric or the center of main quilt blocks.  All of this adds up to spending money…hence, the guilt. Spending money when it is not necessary to one’s survival=guilt, hobby, rewards.

The art of quilting nearly died out in the mid 1900’s.  Thanks to some dedicated hippies and other home-crafters, quilting came back into vogue and the market for new fabrics and designs sprang up quickly.  The United States is full of fabric shops, from huge “big box” stores to tiny mom & pop quilt shops. I believe Great Britain, Canada and Australia also have abundant fabric shops with a great focus on 100% cotton and other fabrics suitable for quilting.  Around the world,  fabric now abounds.  Online fabric adds a whole new array of search possibilities.  Fabric is hip, fabric is IN!

For 35 years, I did not sew at all.  These were years when my children were growing up,toddling around, riding bikes, playing soccer, active in drama and attending school events and teen parties.  For quite a few years after the kids were grown, I ignored fabrics, although I would sometimes admire them when I was in a shop looking for something else, like a button to replace one I’d lost.  When my granddaughter Emma was about 5, I made her a wonderful little dress.  I found I loved looking at fabric just for the joy of all the possibilities.  Next came some Christmas sewing for relatives. I had a very old, functional sewing machine.

Then, about 4 years ago,  I read a book which described the underground railroad. One way people helped runaway slaves during the civil war was to pass oral instructions where they could find a safe passage on their journey north to freedom.  I was fascinated to read that those fleeing were told they would see a quilt hanging outside a house in a certain way, for example over the rail of  a porch as if being aired out.  However, it would really be a flag that it was safe to stay in their barn overnight. It that house were not safe for a few days, no quilt would be on the porch railing.

The people chasing the slaves never learned this secret language but those on the run were able to use it successfully time after time.  Hmmm…Quilts as language symbols.  A new concept to me.  I began to think I wanted to learn to quilt.  And so I did.

Again why guilt?  Because it is so easy to buy expensive fabric.  Because it is so easy to pile up many bags of fabric intended to become a quilt and yet not to keep up with that growing pile.  Guilt because how can something so joyful be free of guilt?  Guilty pleasure because any hobby requires good tools, such as a grand new sewing machine, many sizes of rulers, rotary cutters, thread, batting, patterns, books, etc.

My favorite quilt teacher, Victoria, told us in my Beginning Quilting class:

“Never call rulers, patterns, scissors, thread and other items for quilting ‘NOTIONS’.   Notions are not taken seriously by husbands, fathers, and many others.  TOOLS, on the other hand are taken seriously.  Men understand the need for good tools. Call your essentials for quilting ‘tools’ and you will be taken more seriously.”   Victoria Jones, Portland, Oregon 2008.

In stressful times, I find myself seeking the colors and designs of new fabrics. If things feel tough, it is a great distraction with no real health consequences.  Also, I’ve found that cutting fabric relieves anxiety or stress! It is active, it is productive, it is useful in several ways, and it requires that I use TOOLS!  Some fabrics just draw me in by their pattern or color. Some quilt designs call to me by the unique blending of blocks and angles.  It goes on and on. There are so many gorgeous colors!  And new designs to think up.   look at Paula Nadlestern’s kaleidoscope  quilts.   www. paulanadlestern.com

I love feeling the fabrics.  The chemically induced sheen many fabrics have is still beautiful even though it needs to be washed off. And 100% cotton often feels so great to the hand.  Some fabrics are nubby and some are slightly sand-papery while others feel sleek or soft… it is all part of the array of texture available.

I love the weight of various fabrics, even though I limit myself to 100% cotton. and the various textures. I limit myself to 100% cotton because it makes a really great, easy to wash gently, long-lasting product.  Still within that 100% cotton, there is a lot of difference as I run my hands along the bolts of fabric in a store.

I love the heft of a quilt as it gets larger, has borders added, gets the batting and backing sewn on.  I spread it out across the sewing table, it unfurls with grace.  The weight is a lovely drag to my arms as I lift it. It will make someone a wonderful lap blanket or wall hanging or bedspread. I often wait until a quilt is completed before deciding what to do with it.  Although I often have a good idea as it is made, where it might find a home.  Sometimes I make a specific project as a gift but more often I just make something I love to work on.

People have asked if I will make a quilt for them if they pay me.  The problem is that I would have to be content with their selection of fabrics, even if I did not care for the fabrics or agree with the colors. I might get stuck working on something I do not care for. Also, quilting is a HUGE AMOUNT OF WORK and very time-consuming, there is no way I can see to establish a fair price to put on my labor.  It is easy to figure out how much the fabric, thread, etc costs but to try to get paid for my labor, even at Ecuadorian standards, it would make the end product too expensive.  So I think a quilt I make is a labor of love for various reasons.

In another post I will discuss fabric in Ecuador.

Do not get me wrong.  There is guilt associated with quilting but it is not too much guilt to keep me from enjoying the whole process!

So I go on…quilting as I please… while trying to have some attempt at a budget… and enjoying projects as they catch my interest.  That is best for a serious hobby of a retired woman, don’t you think?

This is a quilt I am making because our daughter is expecting her second baby in November.  This actually will be for Blake, the big brother who is 3. It will have  3 borders added to be just right sized for his big boy bed.  Blake’s Dino Quilt!  There will be an update picture soon.