Archive for September, 2012

Out of Hand – Calgary, Canada

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

I just returned home from teaching for 10 days for my wonderful friend Deirdre who is the owner of Out of Hand in Calgary, Canada. I have been sharing my embellishment techniques with many of her clients for the past five years. Having made some good friends I always love returning to see what they are all creating. Deirdre’s store is one of my favorites to teach at as it is stocked with the best selection of textile fabrics, embellishments and trinkets. It is like an Aladdin’s cave full of wonderful eye candy to stitch with.

I taught a two day Circle Play class followed by a 4 day Design Class. Each student in the design class created a unique piece each layering the background then creating a textural appliqué using images that were meaningful to themselves. Many chose flowers others favorite places they had traveled including childhood memories. We also discussed and working through what embellishments would work for each individual piece. Much fun was had my all. I challenged each one of them to bring there completed pieces next year when I return to teach.

For the next four days we embellished flowers and birds. These are new classes I have been teaching recently and are a lot of fun as they incorporate many dimensional stitches.

I have been on the road constantly in the last few months just having time to do a little blogging but no time to share much other exciting news. In fact I calculated I have slept in my own bed 6 nights since July 15. I am not complaining as I am so grateful for so much work and the fact that everyone I meet is so excitement about my embellished pieces. In between teaching I am frantically writing books and stitching on new samples for Houston market. I am really excited as we have many new projects in the works for Houston. We will be sharing these soon. My daughter Kelly does a fabulous job writing the Sue Spargo Twee blog and helps keep up with the news from the studio. Follow her at for store updates

Creative Stitching


The Campaign for Wool

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Below, a post from my daughters blog: Sue Spargo, Twee

We are so excited to celebrate wool during America’s first official ‘Wool Week’, September 24-30, 2012!  You may be thinking that I have officially lost my mind; asking yourself, ‘Wool Week, what the heck is that?’

The Campaign for Wool was initiated by HRH The Prince of Wales, once made aware of the hardships being faced by British sheep farmers.  In an industry that was once thriving came concerns of extinction.  Wool prices plummeted and farmers were faced with the costs of maintaining their sheep far outweighing their actual profit.  The Prince of Wales recognized a global initiative was needed to reinvigorate the wool industry by reconnecting manufacturers to the durability of wool, the consumers to the beauty and versatility of wool, and to educate the world of the natural benefits and value of wool.  The Prince of Wales appointed John Thorley to chair the Campaign for Wool, which officially launched January 2010.

‘Go Green, Wear Wool’

As most of you know I have only been working for my mom for the last 18 months or so. During that time I have been asked by numerous quilt shops where they can purchase our wools, or where they can purchase the quality of our wools- cheaply.  By customers I have heard and been told many times that there is ‘nothing out there that compares to the quality of our wools’.  Generally I smile and nod and say that I totally agree- but honestly, I was just not 100% sure.  Don’t get me wrong, I have seen other hand-dyed wools, and to say the least, I’m not that impressed (can I say that?).  Usually, what I have found is a product that has a weak color- or  as I say- ‘has barely hit the (dye) pot’- is somewhat flimsy, sticks to your hands, is unravelling, and if you dare to hold it up to the light- you can see right through it!   Is that really what is out there???
So, for the past week I have been trying to think of how I could passionately preach about something that I was really not that familiar with- how on earth could I talk about our wools without ever working with an ‘inferior’ product… and then it hit me… of course I know about ‘wools’… I know a lot about ‘wool’… why you might ask… because I love to knit!



OK- ok- let me be honest and rephrase that- I love to buy- no hoard- hand-dyed, natural fibers- skein upon skein of  yummy yarns.  The first time my fingers touched the lush natural fibers and my eyes soaked up the vibrant, unmistakable look of the hand-dyed colors- there was no turning back.  Goodbye local craft store- hello spare yarn room that I secretly slip into to look at and pet my stash- occasionally…
Oops, I got a little off track there- but once I had this realization I think I finally ‘got it’- finally understood the love people have for our hand-dyed wools.
But to be sure, I headed to the experts, my mom who religiously creates everything with our wools (but is on the road and unavailable), and my auntWendy, the creator.



When I asked Wendy what made our wools so special, this is what she had to say:

‘When I set out to create a line of hand dyed wool there were three criteria which I felt were very important.  The first was to create a saturated color palette with more vibrant colors than were available at the time, using high quality dyes.  The second was to use the best quality of wool I could find and the third was to support local as much as possible.


It took a while to find the sources and establish the right balance but I now can say I have what I think is the best possible hand dyed woolen product available for hand quilters and stitchers.

The wool yardage is milled in the US by a longstanding mill and a good proportion of the raw fleece that makes up this fabric is now sourced from the US as well.
The fabric gets pre washed, goes through at least one hot dye bath, gets washed again and then tumbled in a dryer.  It’s a lot to ask of a piece of wool to endure this much, but it comes through the process evenly fulled, retaining a lovely soft hand.





All this means that our production costs are much higher as a result of needing to meet these criteria, but I think the final product speaks for itself.



It is a beautiful product to work with, a joy to hold in your hands while you are stitching, and provides a comfort that only working with wool can bring.’


In closing, we are celebrating Wool Week by featuring old and new items(new items that will be offered this week only) each day, beginning on Monday 24th through Friday 28th.  If you do not receive our newsletter, you will want to sign up at, and enter your email address in the big orange box on the left hand side of the screen.



Please take some time to visit The Campaign For Wool website, check outWendy’s blog, and of course browse the lovely hand-dyed wool collections on our website!  Earthworks Solids andTextural Wool Bundles 


‘Live naturally, choose wool’

Happy Wool Week!


Smith Owen – Grand Rapids MI

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Last weekend Cathy and I drove to MI for our annual visit to Smith Owen. This was I think my 5th year of teaching at the store. It is always great fun to see everyone again. Pam always has everything well organized and we rest our heads in Barbs lovely home in a nearby town.

The students were very enthusiastic many sharing projects of my designs they had completed as well as getting stuck into new and creative embellishment designs. We worked on flower blocks and a new needle case stitching layers with threads and unique stitches.

The weather was wonderful and it made Cathy’s day to be able to bring a box of Michigan Honey Crisp apples home.

After returning home I was able to cut out a couple of small projects to show case ribbons and fabrics for fall market. I am now stitching these on the road as I am now in Calgary for 10 days teaching for my lovely friend Deirdre at Out of Hand.

Creative Stitching



The Quilted Crow – Hobart Tasmania

Friday, September 14th, 2012

What an amazing trip this has been! We spent our last few days in Hobart, Tasmania with the wonderful gals Leonie and Deirdre from The Quilted Crow.

Their store is in an amazing old sandstone church which was built by the convicts in 1865. It has stunning stain glass windows and a great warm atmosphere inside the building. It was a cozy place to have class. We were able to spread out and stitch for two glorious days.

Both Leonie and Deirdre cooked lovely lunches and teas. We also started and concluded the class with a welcoming cheese and wine party.

It sounds like all we did was eat but we managed to do a whole lot of stitching as well. The students were very creative many visiting from the Melbourne area for a mini vacation.

Life in Tasmania is a little laid back so it was decided to start class a couple of hours late the first day so many of us could shop at the famous Salamanca Market. What a treat Wendy and found many lovely hand made items along with a few hand embroidered Indian cloths for inspiration.

After stitching for a couple of days Wendy and I has two days to explore before returning home. We spent a day at MONA the new Modern Art Museum along with a little shopping. The second day Leonie and Deirdre took the day off and we went to Port Arthur. The coast line is spectacular and we has a great day learning about the history of the area and taking in a little sunshine.

It was just a taste of this beautiful island. We hope to return one day to explore some more. Thanks Leonie and Deirdre for making us feel so welcome.

This has been a wonderful seven weeks. It was very special to spend so much time with my sister as well as all the friends we have made here in Australia over the last few years. It reminds me so much of South Africa so I am sure that is why I feel so at home here.

A very special thanks to Jenny and Noel for organizing the whole trip I believe we did about 36000 miles by air.

What an amazing way to see the world doing something you are so passionate about.

It has been a treat to share my love of stitching!

Creative Stitching






Ballarat Patchwork – Ballarat AU

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Our next stop was Ballarat a wonderful old town were I taught for Emma who owns Ballarat Patchwork. The ladies in the class were very enthusiastic as they worked at layering and embellishing a small cloth appliquéd with their favorite images. It was fun to see many of my ribbons used on the leaves as well as fun fabrics and hand dyed wool. We also learnt how to emboss our lovely silk velvets which we  used to layer. We finished the two day class learning many stitches which added great texture and dimension to each piece.

Many thanks Emma and Pam  for a great visit.

Creative Stitching


Amitie – Melbourne AU

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Wendy and I spent a few wonderful days in Melbourne teaching at Amitie for our lovely friend Jenny and her daughter Lucy. She rented a sweet little hall which was filled with character and they added lovely touches by adding fabric table cloths and spring flowers to each table along with a store filled with lovely color and texture.

The students were very busy creating layered and embellished pieces of their own. We played with all sorts of fibers, hand dyed velvet and ribbons. Jenny and Lucy provided very yummy lunches each day and of cause the desserts were a huge hit especially Jennys homemade scones with jam and cream.

I am very excited as Jenny will be coming to Houston next month to share her lovely designs at the wholesale market. She is a very talented lady and has a fresh new look to share with all of us. So keep your eye out for Jenny Kingwell’s designs.

Many thanks Jenny and Lucy for a fun visit.

Creative Stitching