Priscilla Kibbee

I love to travel all over the globe shopping for textiles to add to my wearable art. I have taught quilting to school children in Nepal, seminole patchwork to seamstresses in Thailand, and jackets and embellishment to quilters in Turkey where I also served as a judge at 2 of their International Quilt Shows. I have created garments for 5 Fairfield and Bernina Fashion Shows and teach classes on embellishment and wearable art. Lately I have been leaning more toward making art quilts.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Where Have All the Kathmandu Quiltmakers Gone?

Where have all the quilt-makers gone?

Kathmandu Post

Nathan Yadav, 35, stands in the gallis of Bhedasingh, Ason everyday, armed with his wooden Dhanus. (Similar to a bow for a bow and arrows) He calls out to the people passing by with a sharp “Sirak dasana banaune ho?” accompanied by an occasional twang of his medieval-looking apparatus, advertising his quilt-making services the way he's been doing for years. Bhedasingh has long been popular for cotton blankets; it is where people from all over the Valley used come to at one time—and there are a fair number who still do—for a range of cotton products, including mattresses, bedding and even clothes. And it is here that many men like Yadav are found earning a living.

Yadav, originally from Raxaul, India, has been in Kathmandu for almost a decade now. He came here hoping to use his skills in a trade that he had learnt as a young man and make some decent money. “Quilt-makers are not in that great demand in India because of the hot weather there. This is why many of us who make cotton blankets come here, to Nepal, where more work is available,” says Yadav. Most quilt-makers, in fact, hail from the border regions, including Bihar, Sisauni, and Raxaul. Some of them have families that have been living in Nepal for three generations.

The quilt-makers either wait in the gallis of major transactional places like Ason and Lagankhel, or roam the suburbs carrying the Dhanus. Although already diminishing, their numbers receive a distinctive boost with the arrival of winter, as demand for warm bedding starts rising—particularly between August and February. “They make solid profits during the winter, and they work very fast. One worker can make at least three blankets per day, charging Rs. 350-400 per piece ((around $4.50 to $5.50),” says Pradeep Shrestha, who owns Machhindra Clothing, a small enterprise that often hires the workers.

Most long-time residents of Kathmandu are familiar with the peculiar drone of the Dhanus, played like a string instrument to announce the presence of a quilt-maker in the vicinity. In a city where a variety of street hawkers abound, the Dhanus' twang is a distinctive—or at least used to be—part of the soundscape. It also makes for a unique sight, with its oddly-shaped wooden body fitted with a string, used to chop up cotton and make it softer and fluffier.

Abdul Hamid, a quilt-maker who has been in this line of work for more than 40 years, says that he enjoys what he does, despite being far from his family and home in Rautahat. However, Abdul doesn't believe this will remain a sustainable source of income, not for long anyway. “The cotton blankets that we make are now being replaced in large amounts by readymade Chinese blankets. It has hampered our work a lot and business is no more like it used to be before,” he says.

It is precisely this sense of uncertainty regarding the future of a profession already at risk of becoming obsolete—in the face of a barrage of mass-produced replacements flooding the market in the last decade—that has compelled many quilt-makers to find part-time work elsewhere to support their families, especially during the off seasons.

“It wasn't always like this; this used to be a profitable trade. Not only was I able to built a house of my own in Rautahat but also got my sons and daughters married,” says Abdul.

This downward trend is reiterated by Pradeep, but he says there are still occasions on which these traditional-made products are sought after specifically. “This time of year, it's the wedding season, and people prefer traditional blankets to the readymade ones. We usually get a considerable number of orders,” he says. He adds that although sales of these old-school blankets might suffer, they probably won't ever be replaced totally. “People have a certain attachment to things they've seen being used in their families and cotton blankets are one of them,” he says.

Maya Kumari Shrestha, for instance, says that she wouldn't settle for anything else, a big reason for which is the price. These traditional siraks cost Rs. 700 to 800 (around $10)whereas the Chinese blankets are much more expensive, starting from Rs. 1,200 (around $16). “Its hard to think of replacing them. We have already gotten used to the siraks and dasnas,” she says. Sita Ghimire demonstrates a similar view while shopping for blankets for her daughter's wedding. “The Chinese blankets might look attractive but they are incomparable to our traditional oodnis,” she says. “Moreover these oodnis can be remade and reused, and have great utility value.” Sita laments the fact that there are fewer quilt-makers on the streets today, forcing her to come all the way to Bhedasingh. “When my elder daughter was getting married five years back, I didn't have to come here. Nowadays, there are hardly any quilt-makers that visit my area.”

With dwindling numbers and a dwindling source of income, these quilt-makers are facing what many traditional professions and crafts have suffered under the inescapable clutch of globalisation—a gradual phase-out. For now at least, they appear to have a loyal customer base in Kathmandu, but who is to say what will happen tomorrow? With more and more machine-made products hitting the store-shelves at increasingly competitive prices, these traditional siraks—and their makers—are having a hard time holding their ground. The sound of the Dhanus, once a friendly reminder of cold weather and warm beds, looks set to fade out slowly.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving in Wolcott

Some of the family relaxes on the sofa watching the Godfather after enjoying the annual turkey dinner. Dominic has his toys all over the floor of course.

Then decides to take a break from that and ride the stationary bike for awhile in the other living room.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wonderful Weekend at Casowasco

Another great weekend with the Tompkins County Quilt Guild at the Casowasco Retreat on Owasco Lake. Setting up the room.

Casey was making a quilt for her mother.

All kinds of quilts appear on the walls over the weekend.

There is even the occasional dress, jacket or apron.

This was the beginning of a sample quilt for Quilter's Corners in ithaca.

I worked on a series of blocks made from Kaffe Fassett fabric. An easy project for the weekend.Casey finished her top.

Another sample quilt for Quilter's Corners.The beginnings of a smashing quilt.

One of Ruth White's cell quilts on the right.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas Tamale Baskets for Guatemala

Christmas Tamale Food Baskets!

It is Christmas Tamale Food Basket time again! Tis the Season for Giving Food!

Christmas Food Basket Time!

At midnight on Christmas Eve 2005, two of Mayan Families (an NGO in Panajachel, Guatemala ) sponsored students went door to door hoping someone would give them a tamale to eat.

This is the traditional meal at Christmas in Guatemala. Their single mother could not afford to buy the ingredients to make Tamales.

When they found out about this they wondered how many other families could not afford to celebrate Christmas and how many other children were sad and hungry at this time of the year.

It turned out there were a lot of people who could not afford to celebrate Christmas.

In 2006 they started the Christmas Tamale Basket Program. They gave out 215 baskets of food. In 2007 they gave out 650 baskets. In 2008 we gave out more than 1,000. In 2009 they gave out approximately 1,600 Christmas Baskets of Food! In 2010, probably because of the economy, the count was down to 1380. Many families had to be turned away.

This year has been a very, very hard year in Guatemala, natural disasters, sink holes, flooding, mud slides, volcano eruptions, rising costs of living and a severe lack of jobs due to a lack of tourism and all of the reasons listed above.

Mother Teresa said "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one..."

They are asking for your help to feed just one family this Holiday Season.

Food prices have continued to rise again this year .
This Food Crisis means that families will be forced to forego traditional foods for tortillas and beans. This continues to take its toll on children and families. There are lots of families needing help.

Malnutrition is a constant challenge in Guatemala. Guatemala has one of the highest malutrition rates in the world.

Please consider feeding an impoverished family this Holiday Season.

Many families in Guatemala do not have enough food to eat this year. Many of the families that they work with cannot afford to have the traditional meal at midnight on Christmas Eve.

You can make a difference now.

For $35 you can give a Christmas Tamale Basket and feed a family of 12 or more. Their Christmas basket is made of plastic and will be used afterwards by the family to stack and wash dishes, hold food etc. The food items will include: Oil, 15 lbs of Rice to make the tamales, a block of drinking chocolate (this is traditional to drink at midnight), a loaf of bread with which they eat the tamales at midnight, sugar for the tamales, coffee, usually they include raisins, grapes, apples but this year there are so many people in need of food that these luxury items will be replaced for food staples such as beans, corn or vitamin enriched cereal. Its hard for us to imagine that raisins, grapes and apples are considered "luxury" items here.

To make a contribution for the Christmas Tamale baskets please go to their website
and go the General Donation section to send a donation. If you would like to pay by check please send your donation made out to Mayan Families to:

Mayan Families
P.O. Box 52
Claremont, N.C. 28610

If you would like to give this gift in Honor of someone special, please send them an email to:
giving them the details and we will put them on our IN HONOR OF web have an e-mail sent to the person you are honoring - please send them their email address.
Thank you for your support.

Mayan Families is a small non-profit group working in the Highlands of
Guatemala. We are a registered 501(c)(3) Non Profit Charity of the Internal Revenue Code.
Your donation is tax deductible.

P.S. Please help spread the word by forwarding this e-mail to your community or posting it on your personal blog, web page and your social networks such as Facebook, You Tube, MySpace, Google Buzz, Twitter, Hi5, Blogs and any others that are appropriate.
Please follow Mayan Families on
Mayan Families Connection Blog

Mayan Families on Google BUZZ:

If you would like to join a Yahoo support group that assists Mayan Families please go to:

To ensure receipt of our emails, please add to your Address Book."
To signup for our E-mail Newsletters please go to:
Your help this Holiday Season makes small miracles happen!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Butterfly Jacket Class with the Weaving Guild

I spent three delightful days last week with the Weaving Guild in Rochester. The first day was a fashion show for the guild, followed by a two day Butterfly jacket class. Almost everyone opted to add some Seminole Patchwork to their jacket.

The Weaving Guild is much more than just weavers. They teach classes on several of the fiber arts at their new location at the Piano Mall in East Rochester. Here a gorgeous jacket begins to take shape from silk and parts of a skirt from Indochina.

A hand embroidered square is going to be part of two vest fronts.

The silk jacket progresses.

Two jacket fronts are finished.

This one uses a mola in the back for its main focus.

A gorgeous hand dye is the focal point for the front of this jacket.

The silk jacket at the end of the day.

And finished a few days later. The back.

Made by Eileen Driscoll from Ithaca.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Workshop with Gloria Loughman, Part 2

Gloria holds up one of her quilts during a discussion.

My quilt begins to take shape after i had applied all the strips to the sky.

The quilt is based on a photo of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, a place I visit often. I'll be there again in December.

There are actually three volcanoes and a lot of small villages on the hillsides.

At the end of the workshop. Actually I ended up not liking the sky after all and will replace it. The Lake and foreground also needs a little tweeking.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Workshop with Gloria Loughman, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to take a class with Gloria Loughman from Australia, a quilter I had been admiring since I read her first book on Landscapes a couple of years ago. I chose to make a sky out of strips of fabric...a technique she has been using lately. Cutting out the strips.
It begins to come together.

Fellow classmates busy at work.

One of Gloria's quilts.

Another of Gloria's quilts.

A sample from one of her classes. The background is painted.
Another student's background.
And another background begins to take form.
This one's about half completed.
And another very subtle background.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Quilts for Kids in Kathmandu Nepal

Quilts for Kids Nepal is a microfinance project, based in Kathmandu, Nepal. It's mission is to provide work for economically-challenged women and to finance education for underprivileged children.

Founded in 2006, the project operates in an encampment of Indian street beggars located in a large field in the Boudhanath neighborhood of Kathmandu.

100% of your donation to Quilts for Kids Nepal goes to fund women's salaries as well as school tuition, school uniforms, shoes, pencils, books and backpacks for the kids.

For More Information:

To Purchase a Quilt or Sponsor a Child:

The women use unwanted scraps which they find in the area or donations.

Many women in the community are excellent quilt-makers – with a skillful and imaginative ability to describe their world through needle and thread.

It takes three or four women approximately ten days to make one quilt. Quilt making is a time for the women to share stories, discuss family problems, and of course, catch up on a little bit of gossip! More importantly it is often a time for passing on skills and wisdom to a younger generation.

Through Quilts for Kids Nepal, many young women are learning traditional quilt-making skills and finding out, for the first time, the real value of their own creativity.

To support the women of Quilts for Kids Nepal, make a donation today. That money will be used to purchase cloth and thread, and to help pay the women's salaries.

The camp on a large field near Boudhanath, on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

By the age of 7, children from the begging camp, especially girls, are sent into the streets to beg.

Quilts for Kids seeks to empower these women by giving them an opportunity to turn their traditional skills into income for their families. The program teaches young women a marketable craft and enhances the overall standing of women in the community through the sale of quilts.

To Purchase a Quilt or Sponsor a Child:

Quilts for

Kids Nepal
1239 Vermont Avenue, NW
Suite 901
Washington, DC 20005
ph: 818.433.0086

$140 can change a life!

By purchasing a quilt or sponsoring a child, you directly fund the education of a child, giving her or him the skills necessary to make meaningful contribution to the village. In this way, you can directly effect social change and give one of these children a bright future.

empowering women
buying a quilt creates jobs!

Buy a quilt
Make a donation
Sponsor a child

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