Category Archives: blog

I love blankets. Blankets are functional textile displays of the individual heritage alive in every culture of the world. I make blankets that are just that. Created from used textiles collected from discarded clothing that is so prolific in our wasteful way here in the grand ‘ole US of A.09.07.15.Trip.1

I cut up wool, cashmere, alpaca, and mohair sweaters, jeans, corduroys and anything else made with mostly natural, nice quality cloth. Cut shapes are pieced, even collaged, together using one of several alternative sewing techniques developed over the last 25 years.

Function is key so the processes used are geared toward long lasting use and heirloom quality. These materials and techniques are used to create blankets from the smallest crib sized snugglers to larger bed sized blankets. The process translates well to wearable pieces, smaller in scale allow for more detailed and intricacy.

The BEST news is that Shire City Sanctuary is hosting my Blanket, Shawl, and Scarf Immersion Workshop on September 26 and 27!


Students will be introduced to an array of construction techniques using hand and machine sewing on home and industrial sewing equipment.

Pieces will be cut with scissors, rotary cutting tools, and even die cut using a clicker press. The workshop spans two full days filled with creative high jinx literally turning a pile of clean laundry into a beautiful stack of handmade blankets, shawls, and scarves!

The process is empowering and deeply connected to our shared cultural history. Finished pieces most often contain pieces cut from many garments that have been worn and discarded by others. There is nostalgia in there, a history of a time past and a person who contributed cloth to the project in the act of discarding their garment.

Materials are affordable, common and accessible. Construction techniques are skillfully taught without judgment or pressure. There is no experience necessary although sewing machine comfort is helpful.

The use of all tools and materials are included in the cost of tuition, however, if specific colors are needed students are asked to bring those materials with them. All materials should be machine washed and dried prior to the workshop.

Register here:

Feel free to leave a comment below if you have questions or would like additional information about this workshop. Oh and if you miss this one, my 2016 Workshop schedule will be released Sept 30 – stay tuned!

08.12.15 4

Every summer I put corn in the freezer and bring summer right along for the ride through the coldest months of the year. This all started a long while back when my son, Ben was a baby. His dad, Charlie grows the best sweet corn I have ever tasted and his mom, Dolly has inspired all sorts of food preservation in me, and many others.

This is how I do it.

You will need:

A large amount of super delicious sweet corn. I ususally process a 50 lb bag.

A large covered pan big enough to cook full ears of corn (with cover on).

Large cutting board

Pancake Spatula

Sharp knife or Kernel Cutter

Large mouth Mason or Ball Jars with covers

Food funnel


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Husk all the corn. Break off long stems.

Boil 2 inches of water in a large covered pan.

Gently place as many ears of corn as will fit in the pan.

Steam them with cover on for 5-7 minutes.

Remove cooked ears from pan with tongs and allow to cool.08.12.15 2

Add more ears of to the hot water and steam them while the first batch is cooling.

When cool enough to handle, cut kernels off the cob.

Scoop up the kernels with the pancake spatula and fill jars using the food funnel.

Cover jars.

Let cool.

Pop into the freezer.

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When ready to use frozen corn from freezer, thaw a jar in fridge and use within a day or two.





08.04.15 McQueen

Have you ever heard of this guy McQueen Adams?  I realize that compared to most I do live under a rock. I don’t watch television, read the paper, watch the news, follow sports, or go to the bar.  A whole lotta people follow him.  He’s worked with Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and toured with Radiohead.  He has dazzled the UK and is signed with Live Nation UK and will be touring Europe next spring. McQueen has filled the house in NYC, LA at the Ace Hotels performance space. He just completed his Ginger Corvette Tour to rave reviews and is going on his Fever Dream tour this September starting in Chicago and playing all over the Country.   Last week I had the good fortune to be introduced to McQueen by a mutual friend and fellow rebel, Aura Whitman of nAtURAlly Catering.

I’ve been checking out his site and videos and McQueen Adams is a super creative genius and F U N N Y! Part comedian, part projection artist, part DJ and a whole lotta performance artist

Just back from his first tour, his agent at William Morris Endeavor needed a live performance video for optimal marketing.  McQueen wasn’t into the whole corporate status quo comedy club in NYC, which is how we got to meet.  It’s the magic of owning a space like Shire City Sanctuary, mind-blowing creatives are drawn in and you get hangout, collaborate and feed each other the elation of creativity.

So, McQueen Adams is making a video in our downstairs stage area tonight.  It’s free and we can accommodate a small audience.  You, as a reader here, are invited to join us 8pm. Let’s be clear, there is no social networking or other promotion of this event at 40 Melville Street in the heart of Pittsfield. Looking forward to a memorable evening.

Most weeks a ‘Treasury’ is compiled in Etsy gathering a group of handmade or recycled items that pertain to what is going on around here.  As we are in the height of summer I am planning our family’s adventure to spend a year in Ireland beginning just about a year from now.  There seem like a lot of ducks to get in a row and I am determined.  Check these things out an imagine how they will help me on my mission.

Original Multi-Media 3-Dimen…


Waxed Irish Linen – 4 Ply Co…


Ganesha the Remover of Obsta…


Personalized Moving Announce…


250 Personalized Recycled Pe…


Personalized Gift Leather Pa…


Kraft Matchbook Notepads Se…


BULK Free Shipping Medium No…


Vintage Irish Linen Tea Towe…


wall calendar Aug 2015 – Jan…


1940s Unused Lucky Star Comp…


NOLLAIG Irish Tweed Christma…


Heart Checklist Sticker, Fla…


Monthly Blog Planning Worksh…


Weekly Wall Planner – Calend…


Weekly Planner Notebook [ Re…


Do you know about Etsy?  It is a marketplace of handmade and vintage items along with a huge array of supplies for making.  You can click on any image above and be taken right to where that item and ones like it are for sale.

Please leave a comment here and let us know which is your favorite item in the mix!

07.30.15.Black Eyed Susans

My hubby and I own a former Roman Catholic Church we call Shire City Sanctuary.  It is a Makerspace.  A Makerspace is like a gym for makers. There are day passes and monthly memberships. Members get a key and are welcome to come and go whenever they want. Equipment and workspace is shared. Lockers, Tubs, Shelves, and Studios are options for those who need storage or desire private workspace. There are classes and weekly public events. Oh and an AhhhMazing Event Space that anyone can rent. There is an strong community of collaborators gathering here that is super exciting!

07.30.15.ShadeIn addition, Shire City Sanctuary is residential. Four apartments are complete and inhabited (with two more to come) in the former rectory, next door to the church. We bought the buildings from the diocese in 2006 and moved in so we could slowly but surely turn the building into truly beautiful, ‘green’ apartments. Lots of reused marble from the church, moldings made with lumber from pews, no VOC paint, blown in cellulous insulation, were used to a make apartments where we would want to live. (Oh, and we did live in every corner of the building while we renovated.)07.30.15.ChurchThe two buildings, church and rectory, form a campus-like feel and are surrounded by amazing green space. This spring Chris and I hired Matt Lamb and Jay Allard of Berkshire Earth Regenerators to transform the yard into a beautiful space for us, and our tenants, to spend time. 07.30.15.MattOn Earthday we had seen a screening of Inhabit hosted by Matt at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge  The subject matter was pretty enligtening and Matt’s enthusiasm encouraged us to consider how our city and specifically our greenspace at Shire City Sanctuary really needed to be overhauled becoming organic, low maintenance, productive, biodiverse, and useful space.07.30.15.Hoogle Bed Matt was really excited when we approached him with our idea to Permaculture-Up the grounds at our center-city property and he set right to work. He walked the property, and assessed what we had growing there. He cleaned up trash, turned the neglected compost piles, and walked the property more, observing all the while.  Next he arranged a tenant meeting to establish how this greenspace should function to best serve the people who would use it most. After some careful thought and deliberation, he formed a solid plan for the space with stages of installment.  07.30.15.BlackCapsThen Berkshire Earth Regenerators showed up with a crew of the most amazing helpers and worked HARD for about a week. They planted a hugle bed, buffering noise and creating privacy. They built a beautiful shade structure to hang out in, created a swale to conserve and use rain water most efficiently. There are walkways, flowers and food growing. Soil is being nurtured with cover crops. Butterflies are fluttering, children are playing and our family dogs are finding shade.  07.30.15.QuinnIn just 6 weeks our property has been transformed and we have just gotten started.  We are really excited to keep the project going. Now that we have our first stage at the rectory solidly underway, we plan to encompass the church with permaculture and spread it as far and wide as we can. Ideas include lots of food and flowers right in front of the church, a rainwater catchment system (off a very large slate roof), fruit and nut trees that overhang our sidewalk with produce to share, a driveway changed from asphalt to pavers that allow drainage and greenspace, bunny tractors, bee hives, and chickens.  All in the heart of a predominantly asphalt covered small city in western Massachusetts. Feels like we might just be part of the solution and THAT feels really really good.  Thank you Matt Lamb and Berkshire Earth Regenerators!

I am by no means well versed in the world of Macrobiotics. Since September 1, 2014 my diet has been macrobiotic based and my health is in recovery. A week long cooking intensive at The Kushi Institute gave me a starting place and since then I have been preparing and eating macrobiotic food and working it in to my lifestyle. There is so much more to it than just what to eat and what not to eat. Lessons come everyday and I feel stronger and more independent as time passes. No more super expensive medication and all their side effects to treat Ulcerative Colitis. No more abdominal pain, GI bleeding, diarreah or uneasiness in public – no symptoms at all actually! No refined sugar, no dairy, no animal products other than very occasional seafood, no coffee, no burgers, no nightshades, ahhhh what else? Beer’s OK. This might sound super limiting and unappealing to many. Feeling healthy, whole, happy and knowing that my food choices encourage planetary balance works for me.


Other than breakfast, meals consist of 5 food items including Beans, Grain, Long Cooked Vegetable, Short Cooked Vegetable and some sort of Pickle. Soup is considered a must as well. As anyone with children and a social life in this culture can attest, this ideal is not always possible. I follow the rules until they don’t work in my lifestyle. I eat leftovers, in fact I actually MAKE leftovers cooking enough for three or four meals at a time. I use more coconut oil than I should and probably eat more seeds and nuts than any one person actually needs. I even use honey once in a while (and it is an animal product!).

I soak my beans and grains before cooking, I use a pressure cooker, gas stove, organic foods, I use ume plums, dried daikon, shitake mushrooms, dried lotus root, oh and sea vegetables, lots of sea vegetables. I make miso soup and it is nurturing. I eat lots of greens.07.26.15.collage

Having been at this a little while I am starting to come up with some darn good recipes. In all honesty, it is questionable if people accustomed to eating the traditional American diet would think my recipes are GREAT but I sure do. I’ll post one here every now and again. Stay tuned and let me know if you are dealing with a diagnosis that is kicking your ass. Not sure if macrobiotics is for you, but I can tell you a lot of healing goes on at The Kushi Institute. Never thought it would be the answer I have found it to be! Yay Me!


noun, ( used with a singular verb)

a philosophically oriented program incorporating elements from several ancient cultures and emphasizing harmony with nature, especially through adherence to a diet consisting primarily of whole grains, beans, vegetables, and moderate amounts of seafood and fruit.

Do you people read horoscopes? I remember scrolls we used to buy at the supermarket in a little plastic tube a different color each month kinda mezuzah-like. The scroll – a long list of daily vague assertions and destiny of love interests held by a future based on birth sign. They were all so similar, one month to the next, one sign or another.

We can celebrate! Along with food quality and environmental awareness horoscopes seem to have undergone a rebirth of sorts since my teenage years. Look at what I’m seeing as I am madly planning, organizing, researching, tidying, and plotting our year in Ireland. Here is my favorite:

 And another really good one:

Thanks to Eric Francis Coppolino Rob Brezsny, this month, more than ever, I’m feeling like I am on the right track, definitely counting my lucky stars.

Where do you find your favorite birth sign based predictions?

Horoscope from the book of the birth of Iskandar Wellcome

Time marches on and planning and work are coming along nicely.  Three things we need to get in order before we head across the pond on sabbatical are: 

  1. Creating a sustainable financial model for Shire City Sanctuary
  2. Renting our house
  3. Figuring out what to do with our house pets

A giant step in accomplishing the first goal happened last Monday.  (More on the second and third goals to come.)

07.20.15 Shire City Sessions

We had our kick off event for Shire City Sessions on July 20 and it was a great success! Over 400 people turned out to see The Lucky 5 Band and US Elevator with special guest members of Deer Tick in our parking lot. The day was sunny and bright, music magical, ice cold craft beer from Big Elm Brewing and tasty eats from How We Roll all made the evening memorable. It came about with the serendipitous forming of a group of Pittsfield based business leaders who wanted to do something great for our community. There will be two more ‘Sessions’ to round out our debut season of Compuworks Shire City Sessions. You can see more about them at our facebook page here:


05.26.15 Call To Makers

In other news, vendor applications for Shire City Sanctuary’s Holiday Shindy are open until August 1. This event grew out of CRISPINA studio sales. Those of you who have been following along for more than a few years will remember the highjinx we had WAY back in Millerton, NY where it all started. Then Housatonic was our base where Big Fun Studio Sales happened a few times a year with music and craft beer (see the pattern?) in our south county riverside parking lot at the old Monument Mills complex.  In 2006 when we bought this big beautiful church in Pittsfield it became the destination and it is our current location where a few studio sales predated the Holiday Shindy.  Since CRISPINA’s high volume production days ended in 2008 Studio Sales have morphed into magical gatherings of nearly 60 regional makers of notable eats, crafts, clothing and the like. The vibe celebrates making with a whole lot more creative people involved.  There is live music, warm community, wonderful shopping and Santa ususally shows up. And just so you know, A Shindy is an uproarious rumpus. Help spread the word to creative makers in your circles to apply for The Berkshires premiere holiday sales event, Shire City Sanctuary’s Holiday Shindy 2015. Here is a link to the application:



Got back from my Irish adventure planning and hit the ground running with a refreshed essence of understanding clear goals requiring hard work.

Shire City Sessions stage building was a wonderful collaboration on Saturday as I was rubbing the jetlag from the corners on my eyes. Sunday and today were filled with some of the most amazing women in the studio at my Potholder Rug Workshop here at Shire City Sanctuary. Tomorrow there are meetings and interviews to promote Shire City Sessions and Oh Boy I feel like I need a vacation (yes! I did just get back from one.)

My creative goal is to turn my stock of materials into awesome fresh marketable product for the last three sales events on my 2015 calendar – you know Straw into Gold! Mark your calendars now and make a plan to come see me at NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck NY on October 17 and 18 2015, Hudson Valley Exchange’s Basilica Farm and Flea in Hudson on Thanksgiving weekend and/or our very own Shire City Sanctuary’s Holiday Shindy December 11-13. At the end of this year I will take a break from making using recycled textiles. There will be fresh new work in the future but if you love what I make and have wanted something special to warm your heart or home, don’t miss out. This will be the end of an era.

Ok now back to cutting stencils for The Dolphin Studio’s 2016 calendar and maybe even squeezing in a short run of art posters for our first Shire City Session kicking off one week from today with The Lucky 5 Band and U.S. Elevator 5-9pm at Shire City Sanctuary. Food Trucks, Craft Beer and GREAT music – FREE

Good thing I love running.

On my run this morning what I thought was a leaf, fluttered to the ground in front of me. I reached out my hand and found a butterfly wing. Feels right – a beautiful metamorphosis is in the making. Funny the reminders we are literally handed along the way. you had a reminder to stay on your path lately? Leave a comment and share your story.

We are hoping that our year-long stay in Ireland will teach how to slow down. Both Chris and I know that we want to simplify and seem to have trouble figuring out how to do it with all our commitments. My schedule upon return from this short trip is already overwhelmed. The next 12 months will be filled with delegating what we can to the helpers around us, and focusing carefully on not taking-on anything new. There are still lots of details to work out but the bulk of our travel logistics are underway.

The adventure of culture change for our family is exciting. This time tomorrow we will be heading to the airport in our tiny little car that has used less than a tank of gas all week with lots of excursions. The week has flown by full of family, history, and finding solutions to conumdrums in a foreign land – all of it wonderful – including my sweet friends who were kind enough to join me on my mission. Looking forward to being reunited with my littles and sweet husband. And then, getting back to my grind – with a renewed sense of exciting change.