I was born in Durban, South Africa, a steamy, tropical city on the Indian Ocean. I fell in love with stitches when I learned embroidery from my mother who was an exquisite embroiderer. As a teen, I frequented African and Indian Trading stores for indigo dyed shwe-shwe fabrics, beads and spices. In 1971, taught myself to do English paper pieced patchwork medallion quilts and the fine geometric prints in the African fabrics were a perfect fit. Thus began my life long love of the stitch, its story-telling magic and its power to heal women’s lives.
I left South Africa in 1975 and moved to live in Canada’s sub-Arctic for 6 years – in Yellowknife and then Labrador. I worked with craft groups in Labrador in the late 1970’s before moving to settle in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. For 6 years I made and sold quilted items at craft fairs and then began to teach small scale appliqué landscapes. This lead to a 25 year teaching career that took me around the world teaching in UK, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, South Africa and Japan. I was on the teaching faculty of Houston’s Quilt Festival for 25 years and taught across Canada and the US. You can see my work in the Galleries. I authored 2 books on small fabric landscapes, you can check them out here.
Inspired by the embroidered textiles of South Africa, I began a fair trade import business called African Threads. I built a strong network with various craft collectives in South Africa. I ran African Threads for 7 years and you can read more details about it below.
I work closely with Odette Tolksdorf, a noted South African textile artist, and together we organize cultural tours to South Africa. I adore sharing my passion for South Africa with visitors. It never fails to inspire one deeply – one cannot leave Africa untouched by it’s power. If you’d like to visit South Africa with me, check out my Tours link.
I’d be delighted if you followed my blog. Also, check out my quilting books and quilting supplies. I offer a small curated collection of fine South African crafts and collectibles that I bring back from my tours – see them at the links on this site. Contact me if you want to order something special from South Africa, in my role as art consultant I facilitate requests and commissions.
A little about African Threads:
I started African Threads in 2006 as a fair-trade, socially conscious import business and ran it for 7 years until 2014. I was inspired after hearing Stephen Lewis talk about the plight of Grandmothers in Africa. I felt the best way to help was to start importing and marketing textiles to generate economic flow to women artisans in South Africa. For 7 years I built strong relationships with 9 women’s craft and sewing collectives in South Africa. I visited them and marketed their glorious textile hangings, bead jewellery and woven baskets. During that time I donated a portion of the profits form sales to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and managed to donate close to $13,000. We visit some of the same groups on my Arts & Culture Tours to South Africa. The embroidery collectives are all still going strong and have built diverse markets for their work.
My logo used on this site is based on a hand carved wooden block from Namibia. Check out the stunning blocks by the Kavango Carvers Oshiwa group in Namibia. They are great for block printing on fabric and paper.