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’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 – 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 ran African Threads from 2006 to 2013 as a fair-trade, socially conscious import business. 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. 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.