First-timer Mary Cannizzaro (above) traveled to Maine with her husband Joe (also above), for my third and final fall quilting retreat here in my home state of Maine. Just as with the advanced class I talked about in last week’s post, this class was held in Maine’s largest city, Portland. However, this class was made up of mostly newbies, along with three repeat students. I feel like I have to mention that, since you’d never know it by looking at their projects in the slide show below. They came ready and rarin’ to go with all manner of critters: cats, birds, a sea turtle, a daughter, a grandfather, and even a husband. Husband Joe wasn’t the only fellow to stop in from time to time—there was also Byron, Jan Simpson’s husband—but Joe had the concern of how “he” was turning out over the course of the week. I don’t think he had too much to worry about.

Getting some final photos before the week ends.

This was another week where I focused so much on the individual projects that I forgot to take many photos of the classroom and students. They worked so hard—and long—into the nights. Tiffany Sherman, owner of Quilter’s Corner in VA, and her friend and employee Angie Smith, took full advantage of being away from home and responsibilities by staying up and working past midnight one night, and two a.m. another! They each created quite large portraits (I do say: Bigger is better!), which you can see in the background of the photo below.

Jan Simpson (above) is quite the exception in any of my classes—she not only finished the collaging of her sea turtle, but also the quilting, final squaring off, and selection of binding! This is a virtually unheard of feat, and she more than deserves that big smile. A detail of the finished work is below.

Martha Ginn (above), stayed focused on her “almost perfect” cat Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s one fault is to chow down on thread that is stretched between two points—such as the tail end of thread as it comes off a sewing machine. I enjoyed helping Martha with her special fur baby. Elizabeth looks much like a past cat of ours, Max, and has a death-defying sewing habit as our current cat Djinni has. Djinni likes to pull out or pick up pins, then drop them—preferably from a height—to get my attention. Don’t we just love them all. Today I received an email from Martha that Elizabeth is almost ready to quilt. Sounds like there will soon be another finished quilt submitted for a Finish Line post!

See more of Elizabeth, Joe, J.J. Newman (the other class cat belonging to Joey Mettley), and more class subjects in the slide show below.

All Levels Class Slide Show

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The lovely ladies of my final Maine quilt retreat of the year. Pictured left to right: peeking from the back—Tiffany Sherman, Angie Smith, Brigitte Schoen, and Mary Cannizzaro; in the front—Martha Ginn, me, Jan Simpson, Tish Atkinson, Christy Beard, Darlene Determan, and Joey Mettley.

’Tis the season for pumpkins, and the ones pictured above are made by my mom Meta.  She used to sell these and other repurposed craft and wearable art at shows. Even though those shows are now few and far between, she still gets inspired to create things. My sister and I—and many friends and relatives—have more pumpkins than we need (though my sis and I keep adding to our “crop” since each one is so different!). I live only 45 minutes from Portland, so I was commuting for this retreat. One morning I had the inspiration to bring a basket of pumpkins in for the ladies. They swarmed the pumpkin pile and I had to text my husband Tom to bring the rest that were available for sale with him when he came to join us for lunch. Pictured above right are the happy new pumpkin owners. Thanks ladies—you gave my mom a big kick with your response to her creations.

My Maine retreats have come to an end for this year, and I have only two more classes in other states to go in 2017. You’ll hear about them—Art Quilt Tahoe and Woodland Ridge Retreat in WI—in later posts. Earlier this week, Maine had it’s own bout with unusual weather in the form of strong winds and rain. Our coastal town of Harpswell was right in the path and we lost power on Sunday night with numerous large trees wiping out power lines up and down our road—the one road that runs the length of the peninsula. We expect to be out of power, and internet, until after this blog posts. But they say, “you can’t stop the beat“, and in this case, you can’t stop the blog! So if you’re one of my loyal Saturday morning readers, sitting back with your cuppa, you can thank my parents that their internet access did not go down. And they have a non-stop generator. So with a relocation of my computer, I’m back in business. We’ll see what next week brings…

For the final photo of this week, a window display taken in Portland on a retreat lunchtime walk. I love seeing the amazement of my students as they create works they didn’t know they could do. And I feel privileged that I can help them get there. And then there’s the rest of life. But with a little bit of humor, it’s all good.


  • As always, I’m amazed by your students’ creativity & skills, but I have to say, the sign in the window made me laugh out loud at 630am on a Saturday w/less than a full cup of coffee in me, no less! True that, fo’ schizzle!! 😆😆😆

  • Love the blog and especially the sign. For myself, oh how true it is! Thanks for sharing. What a terrific way to start my day.

  • I absolutely adore reading your blogs and seeing the creativity of you and your students – thanks so much for sharing. The sign is the icing on the cake and describes my life to a tee.

  • Just what my cupcake needed this morning. Love seeing your blogs and truly impressive student work. Can hardly wait to join a class this spring.

  • Enjoyed reading your weekly blog! Impressed with Mom’s pumpkins and your student;s work! Looking forward to the online class! Yes!!!! PS. Thanks Mom & Dad for your non-stop generator–you would have us readers wondering ‘what’s going on in Maine’.

  • I look forward to my Sat. morning cup of coffee and your blog. I am already thinking about what I want to try in my next class-lots of time to get a good drawing of my cat. I love looking at the art quilts your many talented students have done.

  • I’m the lucky Martha in this class. Although I was there and watched it happen, it is still amazing how Susan is able to draw out the artist in each student. Thanks for the great experience, Susan! It was exciting to read her report and see the progressive pictures of our work. We were so focused on our own that some days we didn’t even look at the others’ pieces. My Elizabeth is coming along nicely, and, judging by how she loves to sit on the work while I’m quilting it, I think she approves.

    • Thanks Martha, you’re a dear. And thanks for traveling up from Mississippi to join us! BTW, my mom loved the art postcard you sent her, she set it out so she can see it as she walks by. As you finish up the quilt, how about sending me a photo of Elizabeth as she “appreciates” her portrait. 😺

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