Sunbonnet Sue recites Pablo Neruda’s poetry in Chile

Sunbonnet Sue visits Chile and recites Pablo Neruda's poetry

Sunbonnet Sue visits Chile and recites Pablo Neruda’s poetry

So here we are again, this time with Sunny Sue visiting the shores of Chile.  The indigenous groups of Chile include the colorful and interesting Mapuche and Aymara, but the folk culture of Chile is really about Spain, especially the huaso culture that surrounds cattle ranching (think vaqueros in Argentina).  Although Spanish traditions, especially Andalusian (especially in costume, music, and dance) and Castilian, have made the most impact on Chile’s folk culture, it’s important to note that Chile also has a substantial German, Austrian, Italian, Irish, French, British, and other European community, traditions, and influence. As you can see, Sunbonnet Sue’s lovely aproned outfit reflects European folk costume traditions.  She’s a true vision in floral purple and looks ready to dance, except she’s lugging around a mysterious moai statue from Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island.  That’s weighing her down some….

The moai figures, head-and-torso figures carved out of stones, average about 13 feet tall and weigh around 14 tons.  Don’t we wish these statues could talk?  We could ask them why their creators went to the time and (what must have been crazy) effort to transporting these 900 or so giant figures to various locations on Easter Island.  Archaeologists believe the moai were created to honor ancestors or chiefs, but it is truly unknowable as there exists no oral or written history of the island.  Or we could ask how the Rapa Nui Polynesian peoples even ended up on the island —  Easter Island is located 2300 miles west of South America and 1100 miles from the nearest island.  That’s pretty isolated, so we can imagine the tale of arriving there is pretty harrowing in and of itself.  I can only marvel at the ingenuity and determination (and possibly pure luck) of these intrepid Polynesian explorers.

Santiago itself is a wonderful city, where any visitor can enjoy, to an amazing extent, European treasures like British high tea, French casseroles and coffee, German cakes and sausage, and Italian pasta.  These European influences can also be seen in the city’s architecture which shows its Germanic and Spanish influence.  Happily for those who quilt, there is also a wonderful quilt shop in Santiago — check out its website,  The shop imports cottons from Brazil and the U.S.   Actually, it’s quite amazing how difficult it is to find quality quilting cottons outside of the U.S. — for those quilters who remember the 70’s and 80’s in the U.S., the quilting cotton market must have been similar.   It’s truly hard to imagine that in the context of today’s booming quilting industry which abounds with high quality cottons in any print and color you can imagine, and I think it truly takes some extra creativity to make art out of such limited resources.

However, what struck me about my visit to Santiago, Chile, and its whereabouts were the number of houses involving Pablo Neruda.    Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He named himself after Czech poet Jan Neruda.  He wrote erotic love poems, surrealistic poetry, historical epics, and even political writings.  In 1971, Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” Neruda always wrote in green ink as it was his personal color of hope.   During his lifetime, Neruda served a stint as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party. When communism was outlawed in Chile in 1948, the government tried to arrest Neruda, but friends hid him in a house basement in Valparaíso, Chile.   Later, Neruda had close ties with Socialist President Salvador Allende.  He died of heart failure and cancer complications three days after the Chilean coup d’etat led by Augustin Pinochet.    Already a legend in life, Neruda’s death reverberated around the world.   Here’s one of Pablo Neruda’s more erotic poems:

Carnal apple, Woman filled, burning moon,
dark smell of seaweed, crush of mud and light,
what secret knowledge is clasped between your pillars?
What primal night does Man touch with his senses?
Ay, Love is a journey through waters and stars,
through suffocating air, sharp tempests of grain:
Love is a war of lightning,
and two bodies ruined by a single sweetness.
Kiss by kiss I cover your tiny infinity,
your margins, your rivers, your diminutive villages,
and a genital fire, transformed by delight,
slips through the narrow channels of blood
to precipitate a nocturnal carnation,
to be, and be nothing but light in the dark.

If you’d like to read or listen to more of Pablo Neruda’s poetry, check out

So folks, I hope that I’ve inspired you to visit Chile, to learn more about Pablo Neruda, to write or read poetry, to explore every city you visit to see if you can find a quilt shop, or simply I hope you find the time and energy to spending some quilting or embroidering.  I leave you with a photo the beautiful purple wisteria growing in my backyard….Purple wisteria in my backyard

Purple wisteria in my backyard





Sunbonnet Sue follows her star to Israel

Sunbonnet Sue is looking a bit ecclesiastical for my taste today, but still the colors are bright and cheerful.   In Judaism, blue symbolizes divinity, because blue is the color of the endless sky and endless sea.    Many Jewish garments will have touches of blue, as is commanded in the Torah.    Blue is also considered the color of God’s glory, and when special items, such as the Menorah, the Ark of the Covenant, and others, are transported from place to place, they are covered in blue cloth.   So today’s Sunny Sue is clearly divine, by any set of standards!

While I could wax poetic about the wonderful sights and landmarks to see in Jerusalem, you can find all of that information elsewhere.   As you may have already picked up on if you’ve been watching this blog, I like to shop.  And if you’re in Jerusalem, I suggest you visit the large souk in the center of the city.  It is filled to the rafters with some truly great art and stores and cafes and restaurants and is definitely a must-visit part of the city. 

If you’re interested in learning about the state of quilting in Israel, I suggest you check out these blogs — Milk and Honey Quilts (see blogroll), Noga Quilts (see blogroll), and Scrap Happy (see blogroll).   One of the more famous Israeli quilters is Shulamit Ron (see blogroll for her website) and there is also a 350-member strong Israeli Quilting Association (see, but you’ll need to brush up your Hebrew!).   While the excellent quality fabrics we are so fond of are available in Israel, they are expensive, but with a little imagination, Israeli quilters are making high quality quilts from readily available regional textiles.    There are a few places to shop for fabric in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but most of them don’t carry much in the way of cottons.  And if there are cottons, they are usually solid colors or some kind of awful baby print — at least that’s my experience.

I hope that I’ve inspired you to applique, to quilt, to embroider, to visit the wonderful city of Jerusalem and to find some divinity within yourself.  I’m leaving you with a beautiful blue hydrangea from my front yard — the head is about as big as a large dinner plate!

Sunbonnet Sue rows her gondola to Italy!

The lovely Sunbonnet Sue takes on the role of gondoliere today, and she certainly has the costume for it.  She’s looking quite sharp in sparkly woolen beribboned hat with its gay ribbons and a sharp red-and-white stripe shirt.   Her skirt is made from a small piece of embroidered fabric that I purchased in the souk in Damascus in the late 90’s.  (It makes me happy when I find an odd scrap of fabric and an old memory to go along with it!)   She definitely looks like she’s enjoying her tasty strawberry gelato cone, after all that hard work rowing!  You might note that I went back to Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials (see blogroll), where I found the Holbein stitch (a variation of the running stitch) to make Sue’s hair a little more interesting.  All in all, she’s a good-looking boatswain, and Sue’s taking her rowing as seriously as Giorgia Boscolo, who. in August 2010, became the first female gondoliere in Venice.  Sunny Sue is such a feminist!

Gondolas, which once served as a real means of transportation in Venice, at one time numbering around 10,000 in the Venice Lagoon.   But these days, with just under 500 gondolas licensed in Venice, they are mostly used to provide tourist rides over the Grand Canal although modern-day gondolieri have exchanged the long poles for more practical oars.  I’ve heard that the gondolas used to have little cabins or awnings on them, presumably to protect the passengers and their goods from the weather, but you know me! I prefer to believe that the cabins allowed privacy for lovers on their way to their private assignations.   I’m sure there’s a little bit of truth in both.

But while Venice is certainly a lovely city with sense of romance, I personally much prefer Rome.  What I especially love about Rome is that every time you walk around a corner, there’s something interesting, historic, or just plain fabulous to look at, to examine, and to learn about.   You can find gazillions of resources for visiting Rome, so I’m going to talk about what always interests me — quilting and quilt shops in Italy!   If you just love fabric and textiles in all of their shapes and forms, then check out Bassetti Tessuti on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.   Bassetti Tessuti is the perhaps the largest fabric store in Rome (could even be Italy, it’s that big!), and fabric lovers will think they’ve died and gone to fabric heaven.  Imagine all those luscious piles of fabric….Of course, it’s to be expected since Rome is almost as much of a fashion hub as Paris or New York.   You might be able to find some forms of cotton at Bassetti Tessuti that you can use for quilting, but I pretty sure you won’t want to cut into one inch of it….

But are there quilt shops?   Well, there is an Italian Assocation of Quilting and Patchwork — if you read Italian, you can check out (     I know of one, Il Mondo di Pezza ( on the Via Tommaso Arcidiacono, but I’ve never visited it.   For the dedicated quilter, it’s probably worth a visit just to find some cool Italian fabric for your quilts.  Il Mondo di Pezza is the likeliest place to find quilting cottons and notions as well as the likeliest place to find out what’s happening on the Italian quilting scene and meet some Italian quilters.   Hey, Italy’s not only about the food!   Okay, we really like the food too, but you know what I mean….

So, I miei amici (my friends in Italian), I hope you grab a cappuccino, a gelato or some other Italian treat, and find some inspiration in this blog to quilt, to embroider, to applique, or just to row your own boat the way you want to — with or without passengers.   To help you get inspired, I’m going to leave you with this beautiful lavender bougainvillea spreading its fabulously wonderful color along a fence.  Have a good one!

Sunbonnet Sue crosses the border to Mexico

Today, I introduce you to Sunbonnet Sue in Mexico.   She looks lovely in her striped serape (or is it a rebozo?) and wide sombrero, but I’m not too sure about carrying a cactus!  Ouch!  This week I was looking for ways to vary my embroidery stitches and add interest to the applique.  Well, I didn’t get too far off my standard stitches, but you’ll note the fringe of the serape is done in the long-tailed daisy stitch combined with French knots (I think the fringe looks way cool, by the way!).   If you’re looking for great tutorials on a wide variety of embroidery stitches, consider checking out Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials (check my blogroll).  The tutorials are well demonstrated and clearly explained.

I love Mexico.  And I love Mexico City.    Well, Mexico City has all the worst a city can offer — horrible traffic, terrible crime, smog, pollution, and more.   But it also has the very best a large city can offer — for instance, the Basilica de Guadalupe is fabulously beautiful, and in numbers of visitors, it is second only to the Basilica in Vatican City.    The city is overflowing with cultural pleasures — from the Catedral Metropolitano, an unbelievable architectural masterpiece built from 1573 to 1813 to concerts, museums, sidewalk entertainment, luscious restaurants, and more.   If you’re a lover of museums (as I am), Mexico City offers a plethora for your enjoyment, from the Palacio Nacional with its spectacular Diego Rivera murals chronicling the history of Mexico, to the Palacio de Bellas Artes with its cultural events, art nouveau and art deco architecture, the world-class Museo Nacional de Antropologia, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, and the Museo Nacional de Historia.   It will take several trips to see it all.    In all of these places, the displays take you from pre-Hispanic Mexico all the way up to present-day Mexico.   There’s plenty more to see and do in Mexico City, and if you have a chance, get out of Mexico City to all the wonderful regions of Mexico itself.

But you know what I’m all about here.  Textiles, arts and crafts, especially of the indigenous variety, are what interest me.   The artisans of Oaxaca and Chiapas provide the broadest variety of beautiful crafts and textiles, crafted with rich imagination and incredible skill.  In the pre-Hispanic era, the Aztecs and other indigenous civilizations produced fibers from yucca, palm, maguey, and cotton which they wove into serapes and other useful items.   After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, silk and wool as well as European-style looms made their way to Mexico, where a cottage industry in weaving  soon thrived.   Many of these woven fabrics are dyed with natural dyes and, in today’s version, many of these handicrafts are still made within indigenous communities.

Mexico City has loads of fabric shops, but it is generally pretty difficult to find quilting cottons in most of them.  Although, there are occasionally some surprises, especially on the discount tables, but even there you need to purchase with care.  A cautionary tale:  I once bought a beautiful floral fabric in one of these stores, carried it around for a few years, and then made it up into a quilt.  When I washed it the first time, I ended up with patches of smeary white — the dye hadn’t been set or something, and I essentially ended up with plain white cotton.  It was pretty disappointing.  However, I do know that Mexico City has a thriving quilting community — while I know there are other quilting guilds, the Mexico City Quilting Guild is a good place to meet people and find out about other quilters, and I’ve heard that you can find a good quilt shop in just about every region of the city.  I don’t know but isn’t the hunt for a great quilt shop part of the fun?

I’m leaving you with a flower growing in the cactus patch in my garden.  Do you see the little butterfly sitting so still on the flower center?   I hope that I’ve inspired you to quilt, to applique, to embroider, to create, and to take a look around your own neighborhood and see what quilting treasures you find there!  Adios, amigos!


Sunbonnet Sue walks like an Egyptian

Sunbonnet Sue is doing a great portrayal of Cleopatra with her asp and I think it’s quite the good-looking, sexy outfit she’s got going on.   But here’s the thing:   Even though we all think of her as epitomizing the Egyptian woman, Cleopatra wasn’t really an Egyptian.  She was a Ptolemy, from a family of Greek origin.   But here’s what I like about Cleopatra — she thought of herself as the reincarnation of the Egyptian goddess, Isis.  So who was Isis, you ask?  Much like Cleopatra, Isis, the Egyptian goddess of rebirth, was the image of empowered and complete femininity.   Isis spent her time working among the people who worshiped her, teaching them how to be resourceful, how to use the bounty of the earth, and how to manage the men in their lives…something we might all aspire to learn.

But back to Cleopatra, a truly fascinating woman.   She originally ruled Egypt alongside her father, and then her two brothers (whom she married, a pharaonic tradition, but had no children from these marriages).   Eventually she was pharaoh on her own, and had a torrid affair with Julius Caesar, joining forces with the Roman to protect her throne.  She bore Julius Caesar a son.   After Julius Caesar was assassinated, she joined with Mark Antony against Octavian, Caesar’s heir, in a battle for control of the Roman Empire.  With Mark Antony, she had three children, twins (boy and girl) and another son.   After losing a major battle against Otavian, Antony committed suicide.  And soon she also took her own life, too, but with an asp of all things, and so ends the saga of Cleopatra.

Cleopatra is still quite well known in today’s world — in art, film, plays, opera, and perhaps best known, in the 1963 film, Cleopatra, in which Elizabeth Taylor starred.   And in true Cleopatra fashion, Elizabeth Taylor met and began a torrid affair with Richard Burton, who portrayed Mark Antony, during the making of this movie.   To this day, Cleopatra is the epitome of fabulous beauty and great sex appeal, so profound her beauty and sensuality that she conquered the world’s most powerful men.

So when you get to Egypt, you’ll want to search out Cleopatra’s ghost proudly stalking the streets of one of most fascinating souqs in the world, Khan El-Khalili.  Built in 1382, the souq is a colorful ode to one-stop shopping, especially for buying souvenirs, spices, papyrus, gold,sumptuous fabrics, and many other wonderful things.  For you quilters and appliquists, make sure you hunt down the Tent Makers of Cairo on Kheiymiya Street (which you can find if you walk from the Khan El-Khalili towards the Citadel).   A dying art, these men used to prepare the traditional decorative appliqued hangings for the tents of nomads.   Today, these skills are turned toward making brightly colored quilts, pillow tops, and other household decorative items; the complex motifs appliqued on them are Islamic, pharaonic and uniquely Egyptian.   When you need a break, stop at a cafe for a puff of apple-scented tobacco from the sheisha pipe and sip hot minty tea while planning your next stop.

So I hope that I’ve inspired you to quilt, to applique, to embroider, to walk like an Egyptian, or represent for Cleopatra, Isis, and all the other goddesses of the world!  You go, Goddess!   I leave you with this lovely exotic flower from my front yard….

Sunbonnet Sue paints her way to France…

Sunbonnet Sue takes off for France, paint palette and brushes in hand.   This time she’s wearing a lovely painter’s smock made from a vintage blue/green/brown striped fabric with her batik beret to match.   I took special care with her hair, and I think it looks just lovely.   Sunny Sue’s ready to join up with some of the most famous French painters, including Manet, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Gaugin, Toulouse-Latrec, Matisse and more.   I’m sure she’s already rented her cold atelier in the 17th arrondissimente, and spends her evenings with the other Bohemians at a sidewalk cafe, swilling cheap red (but French!) wine and sopping up her bean soup with a thick crust of brown peasant bread.  

If you’re in the mood for a little quilting while in Paris, I suggest you visit the quilt shop near Notre Dame cathedral, Le Rouvray, owned by an American and filled with interesting fabrics from the U.S., France, Britain, and Japan.   The French fabrics are beautiful, and the staff was very helpful, even if we did have the occasional communication issue.   Still we all spoke the same language when it came to fabrics and quilting (or patchwork as it’s called there!).   Paris also boasts a second quilt shop, Best of Quilting, in Marcoussis.   This shop is also lovely and jam-packed with quilting goodies and a great staff very knowledgeable about “le patchwork”. 

If you’re still on the hunt for tissues (fabrics) after these two shops, check out Marche St Pierre near Sacre Coeur.  In this area, you can also find several smaller fabric, notions, and embroidery shops, but you’ll have to wander around a bit to find them.   Try to squeeze in a visit to the Museum of Fashion and Textiles, if you can — very fun and interesting for fabric hounds!    Sentier is the big wholesale textile district, but it can be a little dangerous and unless you’re looking for wholesale purchases, maybe not worth the visit.   If you like to get down and scrounge around a bit, think about the Parisian flea markets.   Check out Porte de Vanves flea market for new and vintage textile items (and more!) and Les Puces (The Fleas) at Porte de Clignancourt is perhaps the best known of the flea markets.   Paris is a city made for walking, so wear good shoes and watch your wallet in the markets, but be prepared to have a great adventure looking for goodies!

So I hope I leave you inspired to quilt, to embroider, to paint like the Impressionists or Fauvists or Cubists, to visit a flea market, or to travel to France, especially Paris….  I leave you with this inspirational pink flower from my backyard to brighten your day.  Au revoir, mis amis!