Upcoming Workshops

Cheryl Dineen Ferrin, talented artist and hard worker for Studio Art Quilt Associates, recently put out a call for information about “fabulous workshops” SAQA members were about to teach. I replied with the following information which you may find of interest:

I did teach fabulous workshops online for Quilt University. You probably heard that Quilt U closed at the end of last year. Many teachers shifted to http://www.AcademyofQuilting.com, Ruth Blanchet’s site. I nearly did, but decided at the last minute to go independent. My new site should be open by the end of June (May, I’m in the US!) at http://QuiltEdOnline.com.


TV Blues, a Structured Fabrics Quilt by Dena Dale Crain

TV Blues, a Structured Fabrics Quilt


Courses that will be available there immediately after launch include Math for Quilters, Goodbye to the Grid, Structured Fabrics and Designer Pinwheels. Other courses to come from me include Reflections, Crystal Quilts, Darned Quilts and a new one, Alternative Methods. After those are up, other options include Design Lines, All-in-One Reverse Appliqué, How to Make an Ethnic Quilt, and Instant Patchwork.

Also, I have heard from a number of other teachers who hope to launch new careers as online teachers alongside me! Exciting things are in the wind!!
In May in the US, I will teach (live and in person) Goodbye to the Grid to a private group of art quilters in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 9, and for the National Quilt Association Show in Columbus, Ohio, May 23-25. There I will teach one-day sessions of Darned Quilts and Goodbye to the Grid, one half-day session of Fuss-Free and Seamless Bindings, and give a lecture called World of Color. 

If you are in Columbus for the NQA Show at the end of May, I look forward to meeting you there! If not, find me at QuiltEd Online!

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Filed under Patchwork Quilting, Quilt Workshops, Teachers

Work on Display in Nairobi

One of my pieces, along with others from QuArKe (Quilt Artists of Kenya) will be on display at the Friends of the Arts Exhibition at the International School of Kenya, April 11-16.

The piece I selected is an All-in-One Reverse Appliqué art quilt called Foreign Shores. Machine appliqué, hand painting and hand beading join forces in this experimental work focused on technique to create an original design.

Foreign Shores, an All-in-One Reverse Appliqué quilt by Dena Crain

Foreign Shores, an All-in-One Reverse Appliqué quilt by Dena Crain

Details about the show come from an email notice I received:

ISK Art Show 2014 dates and times

Dates: Friday April 11 until Wednesday April 16, 2014.

Grand opening on Friday April 11 from 18.00 hrs until 21.00 hrs.

 at the ISK School – Commons Multi Purpose Room.

Art Show Times:

Friday: opening from 18:00 – 21.00 hrs.

Saturday 10:00  -  14:00 hrs.

Sunday:   12:00  – 16.00 hrs.

Monday & Tuesday: 9.00 – 16.00 hrs.

This is a special show held annually, I believe, to feature some of the best artistic talent in Kenya. This is the first time ever that the show has included patchwork quilts as works of art. If you are in Nairobi next weekend, I hope you will make time to see the show and help promote the arts in Africa!



Filed under Art, Art in Kenya

QuArKe at Manyika House Retreat

Last week, seven members of QuArKe, the Quilt Artists of Kenya, traveled upcountry on the new Thika Superhighway, a four or six-lane expressway, to Manyika House for their first ever art quilt retreat. We traveled in three cars with at least eight sewing machines, rotary cutting equipment, food and drinking water supplies to last at least a month (!), and a few items of clothing to enjoy three days of being away from it all and with time to work on patchwork quilts as art. What fun we had!

Manyika House is an old colonial settler home, probably built to house the owner of a coffee plantation and his family sometime when the British Government was doling out Kenyans’ lands to returning military who came home to not much of anything else after World War I.

Manyika House, Thika, Kenya

Manyika House, Thika, Kenya

It’s a beautiful home, prime for its style, with a raised ceiling over the sitting room to cool the house, hardwood parquet floors, built-in shelves and cupboards, moldings around the tops of the walls for hanging pictures and casement windows. It boasts three large bedrooms, two full baths and two half-baths plus two smaller bedrooms all on one end of the house, separated from the main living area by a generous foyer that leads into a large L-shaped sitting room.

Manyika House sitting room

The sitting room opens onto the dining room beyond, and it features a huge fireplace and storage/bench seating that wraps around the end of the room below large windows that open onto a lovely garden. The benches are covered with wonderful patchwork cushions from India!

Manyika House sitting room

A large and comfortable kitchen lies just off the dining room and opens onto a paved utility courtyard behind the house. Jasvinder and Charu, working with Joel, made themselves right at home there.


The garden is home to a couple of mature palm trees that set off the front verandah which looks out at Mt. Kenya, often visible on cloudless days. Walk off the verandah and a small pool full of bullrushes lies ahead; beyond that a paved circle that hosts a round table and six chairs with a huge umbrella to cover all. Of course, flame trees predominate in the community!


Manyika House

The house immediately captured my heart, for it was full of the romance of an earlier time in this remarkable country. It is rumored, but not yet established, that Beryl Markham once owned the house. It is highly likely that she might at least have been a guest there, as the owners were not far removed from the Happy Valley Set.

We arrived about 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday and by lunchtime had unpacked our cars, set up our equipment, spread out our fabrics and chosen our beds–we were ready for lunch and then WORK!

We had earlier agreed on a vegetarian menu that would suit all, and a couple of our members had worked together to organize all the food. The house has a cook in residence. Actually, Joel is more like a majordomo, the man in charge of everything!

Manyika House

He made coffee and tea and served them beautifully, prepared and cooked our food as needed and instructed, cleaned the house and made our beds, and generally supervised the property. John is the shamba-man, the gardener and dishwasher who was ever-present as well, and there’s a nighttime askari, the best kind, I never saw him! We were well looked after and made to feel right at home at Manyika House!



It was great to have this time to work, to relax and to get to know one another better. Gretchen and Patty worked in the dining room, and there was a great guffaw from that part of the house about every fifteen minutes.


Bibiana spent the first day on the sitting room floor, working out plans for a new design on paper, then moved the next day to a table in the sitting room to begin the sewing on that project.


Charu, Jasvinder, and Raji worked in the open area of the sitting room and there was plenty of laughter from that quarter. Raji, who enjoyed the peace of the verandah, got the giggles on Thursday afternoon and could not stop!!


I set up around the corner in the sitting room, near the foyer, to have a design wall behind me (I ended up using the floor instead as I needed more space), and got back to art quilting in a big way!



We carried on like this until Friday morning, all of us sorry we had not planned to stay longer. We had booked during the week for a lower rate, given that the house is usually booked over weekends by families and other groups who can meet only on weekends. If you’re in Kenya and looking for a wonderful experience and a delightful place to stay, check out Manyika House. It’s truly special!! If you’re not on Facebook, google it and find local tour operators who can put you in touch with Markus Dierling, the owner/manager.

It seems QuArKe, the Quilt Artists of Kenya, have established a new tradition–an annual retreat at Manyika House. Gretchen now reports a tentative booking for next year that will include an extra night–yippee!! And if you’re interested in our work, the art quilts we are making, they will be on display at the Friends of the Arts Exhibition at the International School of Kenya, over the weekend of April 11. I know, the ads all say April 5-8, but I have it on good authority that the show opens April 11–ring the School to find out for sure. See you there!

Oh, and be sure to visit Gretchen’s blog–too cool!! She’s soooo talented, our Gretchen!


Filed under Art, Art in Kenya, Patchwork Quilting, Quilt Groups, Tourism

Work on Display at Texas Quilt Museum

Exciting news for me, just in from Sandra Sider, Past President of SAQA and now Curator of the Texas Quilt Museum!

"Redefinitions VIII: Desert Sands," art quilt by Dena Dale Crain

“Redefinitions VIII: Desert Sands,” art quilt by Dena Dale Crain

Sandra informs me that my quilt, Desert Sands, acquired last year by well-known American quilt collector Del Thomas, will be one of 45 pieces on display at the Texas Quilt Museum from July through September. This exhibition, representative of the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection, is expected to fill two of the three galleries.



Filed under Art, Quilts

Quarke Artists’ Retreat

This week the small group Quilt Artists of Kenya (Quarke) is having their first ever art quilt retreat. We are a group of about 8 committed quilt artists at various stages of development who are pooling resources to travel in convoy to a farm house in Thika, Thika of Elspeth Huxley’s book “Flame Trees of Thika,” later made into a movie starring Hayley Mills. The house is Manyika House and it was once owned by Beryl Markham, “the first woman [aviatrix] to cross the Atlantic east-to-west solo, and the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop from east to west.”


Once settled in, we expect to spend three days making art quilts and enjoying each other’s company. Our group represents several countries with members from Kenya, the UK, the US and possibly one or two others and a wide range of cultural backgrounds. I know we are all thrilled that this event is actually happening; it has been a long road from nowhere.

Without detracting anything from our members who are working hard to organize and prepare for this retreat, I believe it is happening because of Studio Art Quilt Associates, because of the role SAQA has played in my career as an artist, teacher and author. I am deeply grateful to SAQA administrators and members, each and every one!

SAQA’s collective influence is indeed having an effect felt around the world, even in Kenya. Isn’t that exciting?!!

Please, pat yourselves on the back!! Thank you, SAQA!!!

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Filed under Art in Kenya

Ol ari Nyiro Burns!


A few nights ago we were horrified to see huge wildfires raging out of control at the top of the Laikipia Escarpment which lies to the east of Lake Baringo. These photos are not great, I know, but I was shooting from the western shore of the Lake, after dark, from about 20 miles distant and about 1 mile lower down. Check it out on Google Maps, and make sure you see the satellite image–much more dramatic and better explanation!

I commented about the fires on Facebook, rather sarcastically challenging the government of Kenya to take action to stop uncontrolled seasonal burning initiated by accident or deliberately set by those with no resources to keep the burning under control.

Now we learn that our friend, Kuki Gallmann, of “I Dreamed of Africa” fame and so very much more good work that she has done, has all but been burned out of her home and foundation at Ol ari Nyiro.

Kuki posted the following report on Facebook; I quote it here for those of you who are not on Facebook and might not otherwise see it.

Kuki, her lovely daughter Sveva, and all their friends living on the property and all their employees need help, and they need it fast! If you can make a contribution, however small, I know it will be greatly appreciated.


On their behalf, thank you!


At noon on Sunday 9th Ol ari Nyiro was taken over by a destructive malicious bush fire.

Carried by unprecented high winds sparks flew over the massive double firebreaks we had been working at incessantly since October, landed on tall dry grass and started new fires everywhere.

From Sunday morning to Thursday we fought an inferno. We needed a miracle.

Then the spirit of the Grandmothers sent unexpected a shower of rain in answer to our prayers – and the fires died leaving smoking ruins and broken buildings.

We cannot even begin to take in the extent of this damage.

We lost all the centre bandas, the mess area, the volunteers accommodation, the stores, all building materials, spares, furniture, equipment, most of the houses at Our ecovillage, 10 of the staff houses and all their content- staff food, supplies, their personal treasures.

The girls at the Wilderness Education Centre where we host local kids for free, ran inside the water as the Lelechwa around it went up in flames, but we managed to save at least those buildings.

Importantly, however, we managed to save the Enghelesha forest, the sacred Mukutan gorge, all the big trees at Llera, lugga Tunkuri , the Olive groves of Ngobithu,Ol Donyo Oriu, and Mlima Kissu.

In the choking smoke next to centre firebreaks, a small confused bird flew on my hair and clutched my hair. That gave me a measure of strength. I felt so honored. I am determined to rebuild. Somehow, even as the enormity of this task is just daunting.

After days and nights of fight and no sleep these images speak for themselves. We have all lost our voice.

Please visit PayPal if you want to give us your support through a donation

Kuki with Sveva and the team

Of Ol ari Nyiro

Laikipia Nature Conservancy

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Filed under Animals, People, Plants, Tourism

Calling All Previous Students

As you probably know, I’m building a new website called QuiltEd Online to host my online courses. I’m looking for a few volunteers to send me photos of themselves with a quilt made during my previous online quilt classes. I want to feature these photos on the home page of the new site. I have received a great one from Carole P. Kenny, one of my best students, who made this quilt while taking Goodbye to the Grid with me.

Carole P. Kenny with her Goodbye to the Grid quilt

Carole P. Kenny with her Goodbye to the Grid quilt

If you can produce a photo like this one, a picture of yourself and your quilt in the background or in your hands in front of you but still showing your happy smile, please contact me for more details.



Filed under Networking, Online Quilt Classes, Patchwork Quilting, Quilt Workshops, Quilts