Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts


the colored leaves; the cooler temperatures; the delicious stews, soups and desserts associated with Fall. Apples, pumpkins and nuts of all kind are with us again. There is no reason to wonder why Fall remains my favorite time of year. 

Fall colors near Hillsborough Town Hall

So much has happened since I last posted a blog – hardly anything worth repeating here. 2020 has not been the most positive of years. At least we are closer to the election -4 more sleeps – enough said about that. The hot temperatures have been blown away by the numerous hurricanes winding down as they have passed over and around us here in central North Carolina. We send concern to those more directly impacted. I have about 2 dozen green tomatoes still clinging to the vines. My fault, as I didn’t buy the plants until mid-June. Yesterday, I moved them closer to my window so I could watch them, thinking they might ripen if they knew I was watching. Hmmm… as with boiling water, I don’t think this will do the trick. They also needed protection from the swirling tail winds of Hurricane Zeta and possible frosty nights that might creep in unaware to me.

AND, most importantly, our tiny family bubble of 4 has managed to stay healthy and isolated from the hideous virus that is threatening the world.

To take my mind off of the world around me, hesitating to wander into it, I challenged myself to make some hangings for my sheltered entrance and the narrow space under the light by the garage where I usually hang a seasonal wreath. My September piece features coneflowers which I have used in previous works. I credit Jan Soules, a well-known quilt artist, for the composition layout. I usually work from original ideas, but fell in love with her use of piecing for the background. Starting from that, I worked my own end of summer design. My piece is made from mostly patio grade fabrics – canvas and jute cord, with regular weight quilting threads so that I could hang it in the sheltered weather elements by my front door. There are some fabrics in the sky that are prints from my sky paintings.

Summer’s End 2020

For October, I created a small hanging featuring a front yard scene of appropriate items. Again, I used patio canvas, but used a rusting process to add textures to the pumpkins.

October Blessings 2020

For October Bounty, I wanted muted values to reflect the general colors of the season with pops of color to feature the bounty of the month. The sky is strips of duck fabric interwoven to create a textured sky, but still remaining in the muted tones. The strips were raw edge, but secured with lots of stitching in due process. A few of the woven strips were previously printed and some have sequins attached to the purchased fabric. The fields are duck fabric which has been rusted to various degrees. Texture was added with colored jute cord to separate the fields. The binding  is jute as well. Most fabrics are either canvas, burlap, or duck. 

There was no pattern. I drew the tree in a simple line drawing while looking at a sample and then widened and enhanced the branches with paint. The tree was then enlarged in my printer and the sections were taped together to serve as a pattern. The hanging was completed in sections and then assembled with fleece as batting, just because I had fleece on hand (covid variations). The backing is a nylon/polyester fabric that was in my stash.  Some of the fabrics melt when heat is applied – a lesson learned. Luckily, I am finding that the rusted fabric does not seem to fade, even after being displayed for a month through wind and rain. It has been in a north-facing location, so no direct sunlight. The piece was submitted for SAQA’s challenge, Land Art-from the Forest to your Balcony, but did not make the cut this time. I have created two additional pieces for outdoor display, and am working on Maple Leaves and Gobble for display in November – SOON.

October Bounty 2020

Stay well. Be safe. Wear a mask. Self-distance. Wash your hands, and most of all… VOTE! We’ll get through this world-wide challenge as best we can.

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts


The STUDIO ART QUILT ASSOCIATES (SAQA) is currently auctioning off donated quilts to raise the funds to support their promulgation of the quilting/fiber arts. I am honored to participate by donating my 12×12″ piece to this effort. It is up for bidding this week. Check it out, along with the other quilts available for bidding/purchase this week. Week Two Auction Quilts

“A BETTER WORLD” is currently on display online. This originated as an invitational exhibit, and again, I was honored to be invited to participate. Forty of the pieces will travel to the International Quilt Show in Houston. If you want to be inspired, read all of the entries into this show of heroes. They are listed in alphabetical order by artists’ last name – mine is in the R category, of course.

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts · Tutorials


This December finds us with 10″ of snow. Might as well spend some time snow dyeing some fabric!!

Pre dye fabrics
Fabrics and snow- ready to begin.

Dye colors
Procion Dyes-yellow, turquoise, red, orange, turquoise, red, black, fuchsia

Snow added
Snow packed on top of fabrics which are bleeding a bit.

Layers of dye-blue,yellow
Layer of yellow then blue or turquoise dye sprinkled. I’m looking to create shades of greens and browns.

Layers of dye-black, orange
More layers, black and a splash of orange.

Snow Melted first time.
Snow melted – new colors

First Snow Dye results
Kept these and put the others back in for another snow-dye bath. I like the muted soft colors. Dark one is purple. First one started out solid yellow.

Spools to settle
I used spools in bottoms of the containers to allow the melted snow to stay below the fabric so the fabric doesn’t soak in the mixed dyes. Marbles, ping pong balls, a grid -anything that would hold the fabric up away from the liquid would do the trick. This time I soaked the fabric in a bath of soda ash and water first. The soda ash will help the dye adhere to the fabric for more intense colors.

9Dye added-reduced
Snow and dye added again – dyes should soak through the fabric and meld as they soak into neighboring areas, but retain some of their own color in other areas.. Melt, melt, melt! That’s always the plea throughout the winter, right? Notice, I remembered to put down a protective plastic cover this time. I always work inside of a large plastic crate so that my spills and overflows are contained there – except for the sleeves of my shirt which seem to drag through the dye and then drip down my arms. I wear a mask when working with the soda ash and dyes so that I don’t breathe in the fine powders.

These are the results of the overdyeing. I love the cloudy sky, but it may work for something else too. The other subdued colors are just what I was hoping for. Now…. let’s get to work!

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts · Thread Whisperers

Coming in August 2018!


Le Chêne Chapelle
Le Chêne Chapelle: Alive since Louis XIV, the large oak was hollowed out by a lightning strike. Parish priests built two chapels inside the hollow which are still used for worship and are visited daily by tourists. Located in Allouville-Bellefosse, Normandy region, France.


Save the Date!

The Thread Whisperers (Ana Sumner, Debbie Herbst, Shirley Perryman, Mary Ritter)
will be exhibiting at the Page Walker Arts and History Center, Cary, NC

Exhibit Dates: August 7, 2018 to Sept 2, 2018

Show Title: FABRICATED STRUCTURESorganic and inorganic

Art Reception scheduled for August 17, 2018 from 6 to 8 PM. Open to the Public – please come! 

Gallery Statement: The Thread Whisperers have challenged themselves to depict organic and inorganic structures in their fabric art. From the dramatic to the subtle, this exhibit will reflect the spirits of Debbie Herbst, Shirley Perryman, Mary Ritter and Ana Sumner through their anthologies of fabric, thread, embellishment and machine and/or hand quilting. View the beauty of all that surrounds us – skylines, buildings, landscapes and nature – focusing your vision through their unique perspectives.

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017 – Saturday 11/25

I had an early Call so I was up at 7:30 and walked to Park Central Hotel for a coffee and muffin at the deli in their lobby. Call Time was at 8:45 with rehearsal from 9AM until 2PM – no breaks. The two choir pictures show just Choir one which is about 200+ voices and sings Part I of the Messiah (the Christmas Portion). Choir 2 rehearses separately and is also 200+ voices. They sing Part 2 and 3 of the Messiah – the Easter portion of the Gospel. We will sing together on the Hallelujah Chorus, Worthy is the Lamb and the Amen – 400+ voices. I sit right under the directors podium…. he hears all my mistakes and doesn’t hesitate to say something! When I take too deep a breath, he says….. “I hear you!” But he is funny and friendly.

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I met up with my family back at Hotel Edison, but took time for pea soup at Juniors Restaurant (from the 1950) before we headed out once again. They supposedly have the best cheesecake in NYC, but I didn’t try any this time. I think I missed my chance.

Tonight’s destination was the northeastern corner of Central Park by Jackie Kennedy Reservoir. We walked the path in that area and enjoyed the colorful trees that still survived this late into the fall season. One picture shows the Metropolitan Museum through the trees.

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We walked past the Guggenheim to see its architecture, but again it was a free night, so we avoided the crowds this time. The line was around the corner and back as far as we could see. My rehearsals took away from the better times for the museums, but we knew that would happen.

The dim outlines of the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright can be seen through the trees. The only way to get a clear view was to stand in the street…. which was pretty busy!

We ate dinner at New Amity Restaurant, a classic old-school, NY diner with friendly service and neighborhood clients on the Upper East Side. It is a short walk from both the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museums. Since I had eaten a late lunch, I enjoyed a waffle with ice cream – a reward for a heavy day of singing. The cold felt good on my throat, but probably wasn’t the best choice for it. We took the bus back to Times Square and watched the neighborhoods float by along the way. On our walk from the bus to the hotel, we stopped to watch the light show on the wall of Sak’s Fifth Avenue.

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After a short walk to Hotel Edison…. Sleep.

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017 – Friday 11/24

Norm, Eric and Andrea took off to tour Wall street and Lower Manhattan first thing in the morning. They took the subway to Brooklyn and then walked back to NYC over the Brooklyn Bridge. They were challenged to try the subway system for the first time, having negotiated BART in San Francisco and The Metro in Washington D.C. previously.

BrooklynBridge Brooklyn Bridge with Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center (with the spire) in center view. (Photo by Norm Ritter)

They also saw the Wall Street Bull and the Empowered Girl.

2017-11 Andrea -StrongGirl2017-11 Norm:Pig NYC

Norm found another friend, and they both say hello!

I had a leisurely breakfast at Friedman’s in the lobby, and then walked to rehearsal at Park Central Hotel, from 47th to 56th. In the early morning, my feet held up. Our Call was for 11:45 with rehearsal from noon til 5PM. I will always be seated, by request, so I shouldn’t have problems with my feet, but no one will be able to see me on the stage as I will be placed, along with a dozen others who are seated, directly behind the orchestra.

Norm, Eric, and Andrea met me in Park Central lobby and we walked to MOMA (Museum of Modern Art). It was crowded with art students, but we joined the crowds to see three panels of Monet’s lilies, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Kirchner’s Street from Dresden, a Hopper, an Andrew Wyeth, and two Seurats. After a couple of hours, we crossed the street to Connelly’s Irish Pub for dinner. The walk back to Hotel Edison was not far and we were ready to call it a day.

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017 – Thursday 11/23

We were awake and up fairly early as we needed to switch to larger rooms before heading out and about. We walked around Times Square and Rockefeller Center, eventually settling at 51st and 6th (near Broadway) to watch the Macy’s Day Parade. The angels outside Rock Center welcomed us and the camels were awaiting their stage time in the spectacular at Radio City Music hall. The windows included the Anthropologie store, The American Doll store and the Lego Store. We had visited this area in a summer in the 1980s as a family so it was a good starting point.

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We chose a street corner where the parade would not perform as those spots would be overly crowded. We just wanted to see the balloons and wave to the participants.

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We grabbed brunch at Heartland Brewery and Bakery on 5th Avenue, and we then continued down 5th Ave to view window decor, starting with Sak’s 5th Avenue where “Snow White” is the theme this year. St. Patrick’s Cathedral came up in the middle of our walk.

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We also walked to Bryant Park – Winter Village and watched skaters.  After walking about 16,000 steps in all, we returned to our hotel by 4:30 and rested a bit. Then we walked around the block to enjoy our traditional turkey dinner at Bond 45 on 46th across from the theater where “Hamilton” is being performed. Followed by … Hotel Edison…  Sleep…. We didn’t plan a destination day, but just wanted to experience New York City for a day. I think we accomplished that, but there is much more to see and do!

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017 – Wednesday 11/22

We boarded Amtrak in Cary at 9:30AM (about an hour late due to heavy ridership). Comfortable, roomy seats with lots of leg room were a plus. We arrived at Penn Station @ 7:30PM, and grabbed a cab to Hotel Edison at W47th Street and 7th Avenue. A conversation in the lobby with a visitor told us security and long lines made viewing the balloon inflation impossible. After settling in, we began exploring Times Square. We soon were at Rockefeller Plaza and enjoyed some memories from long ago. (The first picture below is from Tuesday’s rehearsal). We found iL Fiorno in Hell’s Kitchen for dinner. Good meal. We walked back to the hotel and settled in for the night.

0Cary Community Choir assembling for first 2017 Messiah rehearsal - 47th Annual Concert
Assembling for our first rehearsal before heading to to NYC Messiah Concert in Carnegie Hall with a 400+ voice mass choir from around the USA and world.

image   Our Amtrak Route from Cary to Penn Station.

There is not much to photograph along the route. Here we are crossing the Potomac River going into Washington DC.

Blurry – but GRIDLOCK says it all, outside Baltimore, Maryland.

We are here and checked into the Edison Hotel – right in the heart of Times Square. We ventured out for a walk and ate our dinner at Il Fiorno Restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen.



Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts

a la Van Gogh

August 2, 2017

Debbie Herbst and Ana Sumner had their submissions selected to participate in the Cherrywood Fabric Van Gogh display and show. Congratulations! Selected August 10, 2017.

Yesterday (August 1) marked the deadline for submission of our quilts to the Cherrywood Fabric Van Gogh Challenge so now I can blog about it.  Cherrywood Fabrics is located in Baxter, MN, my home state, but I order online and have never been to their MN facility. Their fabrics are solid color, 100% cotton that looks and feels like suede. The Thread Whisperers, three friends and I who formed our own art quilter’s group, all agreed to enter this challenge. We love the works of Van Gogh and were energized to see if we could recreate his work or his vision in cloth and surface design. If you remember Van Gogh’s artwork, you will realize the challenge of turning this solid fabric into the energized work he did. Here’s a sample of his work: Van Gogh Museum. We could choose a theme from orchards, paths, flowers, trees and portraits, among others. We have a nice variety among the four of us, all of which were required to be 20″ square. If we do not receive entry into the Cherrywood display, we have a show of our own coming up in August 2018 at the Page-Walker Art Gallery and History Center in Cary, NC in which you will be able to get up close and personal.


Debbie Herbst chose to illustrate the flowers on an almond tree with quilted lines adding the energy and movement so present in Van Gogh’s works.

All rights reserved. ©Debbie Herbst  2017

Van Gogh Challenge: Almond Joy
Debbie Herbst created her vision of the blossoms on an almond tree. She appropriately named it “Almond Joy”.  (All rights reserved @ Debbie Herbst)


Ana Sumner (click the link to see her webpage) created her vision of Van Gogh’s orchard. It is called “Oliveriae”.

All rights reserved. ©Ana Sumner  2017                                                                                                          Ask permission at Ana’s web page.

Oliveriae by Ana Sumner
Ana Sumner created “Oliveriae” with her own vision of an orchard done a la Van Gogh. The movement in the sky is created with strips of fabric and quilting lines. Again, the ground adds a solid element with strips of fabric and quilting lines. I love the color variation in the leaves on the trees. Check out Ana’s web page to see her excellent ribbon embroidery! All rights reserved @ Ana Sumner

Shirley Perryman used her considerable piecing and quilting skills to create her vision of a starry night. The movement created by the half-square triangles and the curved quilting lines speaks to Van Gogh’s style.

All rights reserved. ©Shirley Perryman  2017

Shirley Perryman created her vision in the abstract traditional style of quilting arts, using half-square triangles and curved quilting lines to create the same spinning we view in “A Starry Night” by Van Gogh. All rights reserved @ Shirley Perryman

I chose to create portraits in the Van Gogh style. In order to add movement to this solid fabric, I created two layers. The shadow layer is directly beneath the top layer, which is appliquéd. After sandwiching those two layers with batting and a backing, I quilted the movement lines and then cut away snippets to allow the shadow layer to show through. That was followed by a layer of tulle and an outline with couched yard or pearl cotton.

Les Fleurs Pour Grandmére
This portrait shows my mother who, at the time of this photo in May of 2017, is 98 years old. She is holding the roses I sent to her for Mother’s Day. My sister, Janice Holien, snapped the photo with her iPhone and sent it to me. Immediately, I knew it would be perfect for my Van Gogh portrait project. All Rights Reserved – Mary A Ritter

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017                                                                                  Ask permission at

My second entry in the Van Gogh challenge depicts my husband enjoying a relaxing respite on the Paseo in Alicante, Spain in 2015.

En Vacance by Mary A Ritter
I knew when I took this picture that it would become a quilt someday. “En Vacance” means “on vacation” literally, but is also means tourist in Spanish. All Rights Reserved – Mary A Ritter

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017                                                                                      Do not use these images for any purpose without permission of the artists listed.     Your punishment will be worse than having your tongue stuck to a frozen pipe!       Ask politely and “most likely” permission will be granted.



A Place in Time series · Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts

Quality Time

Walking in Central Park, NYC, in the fall of 2016, made me realize what a great respite this place can be for the families and folks that live in this busy place, as well as for the tourists flocking here to experience “the big city”. Only looking up at the sky makes one realize that there is a metropolitan city just over a few blocks on the other side of the trees. This piece reflects my more common folksy style, but I did incorporate mono printing in creating the windows and fabric painting on the buildings and trees. All of the fabrics are my own hand dyed pieces.  I also used texture magic to give dimension to the trees. If you enjoy the view or if it brings a memory forward, please share below in the comments.

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

QUALITY TIME ~ 2017                                                                                                                                   Mary A Ritter                                                                                                                                                        35″ wide by 38″ high                                                                                                                                           A boy can never get enough time with his dad. After a busy time in the big city, the two companions sit beside the lake in NYC Central Park, watch the model sailboats, and just enjoy some time together. The noise of the traffic, beeping horns, calling voices, and the shadows from the tall buildings are kept at a distance. This is quality time – father and son.

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

Quality Time ~ 2017                                                                                                                                        Detail of buildings and trees

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts · Spain


All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

The winter of 2017 is proving to be a productive time. I recently completed two art pieces for the “Places in Time” series which follows my life and travels. This piece reflects time that we spent in a condo in Valencia, Spain in 2015. The description below the picture tells a bit about how it was accomplished. I placed the original photograph at the bottom for reference. I hope you enjoy seeing the finished product as well as the process, and if you do or if it illicits a memory, please share in the comments  below.

TEA TIME on Callé de Cadiz Valencia, Spain 2017                                                                               Mary A Ritter                                                                                                                                                     25”w x 33”h                                                                                                                                                          A Valencian scrambles back to her third floor condo ready to relax after a long day. In an hour or so, she will return to work until late evening. The tea is poured and she relaxes on the balcony overlooking Callé de Cadiz, watching the families beginning to gather for their siesta meal or caña (small beer) at the sidewalk cafés below. The traffic is quieted during this time of day, and the warmth of the sun and the tea are a respite from her busy world.

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

Detail of TEA TIME: The photograph of Callé de Cadiz (Cadiz Street) was taken while I vacationed in Valencia, Spain for two months in Spring 2015. It was altered in several digital apps and then printed on cotton lawn by Spoonflower. Pieced hand-dyed fabrics enhance the design along the edges, with fabric paint, machine embroidery, silk hand embroidered flowers and machine quilting. All work done by the artist.

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017


Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts


The Thread Whisperers initiated their new art group with a field trip to Hillsborough, NC, to tour several art galleries, enjoy lunch, and anticipate what might lie ahead for this newly formed group of artists in 2017. We are eager to move forward with our own projects and with some shared endeavours. More to come!

THREAD WHISPERERS: Deb, Shirley, Ana with Mary clicking the camera.



Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts


“Celebration in the City”

I completed “Celebration in the City” prior to our Great Rivers of Europe Cruise in mid-September 2016.

“OOOOOH! AWWWWW!” Celebration in the City Design *** Inspired by Jen Kingwell’s Gypsy Wife Design *** Artist Hand-dyed & Monoprinted Fabrics *** Machine Appliqué * Machine Quilting * Machine Embroidery *** by Mary A Ritter, Cary, North Carolina -September 2016 *** all work completed by the artist ***All Rights Reserved 2016                                   

The work on it began earlier in the year when members of my local quilting group, The Piecemakers, decided to work together on the same pattern. Eager to learn some quilting blocks, I signed up, but of course, didn’t stay with the action plan for very long. I enjoyed learning how to create some blocks, but then decided to add a city-scape along the bottom of the quilt. Eventually, I turned the blocks on-point to depict fireworks and then used more blocks than the original design. I designed the sky behind the fireworks so that the light from the buildings was reflected in light sky tones near the buildings, smoke and clouds crowded across the center and a darker, clearer sky developed higher in the work. It hangs above the archway in our entry hall. All in all, it was a challenging and fun project.

My series emphasis for 2017 will be cityscapes and structures that I collected in photographs on our Great Rivers of Europe cruise. Keep an eye on this spot.

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts

Day 9-Oct 1-Sat~Riding the border~Passau, Germany

Day 9-Oct 1-Sat~Riding the border~Passau, Germany

Here is the Adagio (blue on top) berthed beside another ship. In order to exit we walk across a short gangplank onto the sundeck of the other ship and then down onto their gangplank onto the pier.

As we float down the Danube River, we are straddling the border between Austria and Germany. There are rolling tree-covered hills with picturesque villages on either side. We won’t technically be in Germany until we dock in Passau and register our passports. We have left our passports with the ship’s pursor so all of the details will be handled for us.

Passau is a town in Lower Bavaria, Germany. It is also known as the Dreiflüssestadt or “City of Three Rivers,” because the Danube is joined at Passau by the Inn River from the south and the Ilz River from the north. l thought it would be interesting to cross through this confluence, but we are berthed at the tip of a peninsula where the three rivers meet, and it is smooth and quiet.

Village and countryside on the Austrian side of the river. The bridges are only in the big cities, so crossing is done in boats or small ferries.

Larger town on the German side of the river. As you can see, our sunny skies have been replaced with fog, clouds and a bit cooler temperatures. Still a beautiful view.

To pass the time while we sail along, the Adagio’s chef demonstrates how to make apfel strudel.

Some folk bring their bikes! I translate this sign as cruise going shelf #1.  It marks where the cruise ships dock on the pier.

Empress Elizabeth, also known as Cici, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph. He was the oldest of 16, of Empress Maria Terese ~ her youngest child was Marie Antoinette. What a family!

The guide in Vienna told us Cici was beautiful like Romi Schnieder, who played her in a movie. Franz Joseph chose to marry her over her sister and against his mother’s wishes because she was so beautiful. She was sad like Princess Diana becase Empress Maria Terese was not a good mother-in-law. The empress insisted on raising Cici’s children and isolated her until she produced a male heir. Her third child was a son, but he died tragically as a young man. She rode horseback like Don Giovanni – she was a bit of a tomboy. She was assassinated like JFK at the age of 72(?) by an anarchist. He stabbed her with a long sword while she was out walking. The tightness of her corset stemmed the bleeding, but when they removed it, she died. What a story! There is a three part movie based on her life that I hope to watch.

Caught sight of this woman in period costume during our walking tour.

We attended the St. Stephen’s Passau Cathedral Organ Concert at noon. Five independent organs situated around the nave can all be played concurrently from the main keyboard. 17974 pipes, 233 registers. It is the world’s largest cathedral organ. The music was gorgeous and so calming. The pews were filled front to back. The church is Italian Baroque style, and much better designed than the Melk Abbey-not quite so garish in its use of gold leaf.

After the concert, we found the highly recommended Simon’s Cafe where we had a small lunch and bought some chocolate to enjoy aboard ship… just in case we ever get hungry.

(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view and sometimes, commentary.)

After strolling about the city for a short time, we returned to the ship to hear a presentation from a Sudeten German woman. It was fascinating. Sudeten Germans live in the Sudetan Mountain area bordering Germany/Czech Republic and are the German people  who were forced into The Czech Republic when the borders were realigned by treaties following WWI. They gradually developed new lives and then Hitler began to rise. During  WWII, they were displaced over and over. While we all know of the displacement and horrible treatment of the Jewish people, few of us know about the difficulties faced by these formerly Bohemian Germans.

Ciao for now!

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Great Rivers Cruise-Europe

DAY 8, Friday, Sept 30~Melk Abbey

DAY 8, Friday, Sept 30

When we woke up and looked out our window, we could see that we were approaching a lock. While we ate breakfast, the Captain aligned the ship to navigate a lock adjacent to another ship of the same size. It didn’t look like we could possibly fit in the space, but we made it.

Norm took this panoramic shot of the River Adagio at the Melk dock. It makes it look smaller than it is.

 We are smoothly riding the waters on our way through the Wachau Valley or Gorge. The Romans used this gorge as a bastion to keep the northern forces out of their empire, and it worked for a very long time. The valley is 13 miles long.

A typical scenic town along the Danube.

I always like the stories told by our guide that bring it all to life. It seems King Richard III liked to roam through this area. He frequently was captured and held prisoner in various castles where it was very difficult to find and rescue him. He and his servant worked out a system using a song known to few, but to both of them. The servant would wander around a fortified area singing the song. Eventually, he would hear King Richard singing in response. The servant could usually pay a ransom to free the king. This happened so many times that the steeple for St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna was constructed using these ransoms.

A sculpture on the riverbank honoring King Richard, on his horse, and his faithful servant who rescued him so many times.

There are 50+ vineyards planted in the Wachau Valley on its steep hillsides. Only monasteries were allowed to have vineyards, so there were also many monasteries built back in the crevices where they were protected from the harsh winter freezing rains and winds.

Vineyards. We were able to sit in the warm sunshine on the top deck of the ship all morning today. Unusually warm weather, they tell us.

The wine replaced the water which was not fit to drink. The wine at first was quite sour because grapes need sunshine in order to increase the sugar, and sunshine was limited. Red grapes also need a longer season, so mostly white wine was developed. The soldiers would drink the sour wine anyway, and the King didn’t mind because the wine from Tuscany was sweeter so he drank that.

Salt was also rationed as a preservative and seasoning. The soldiers were paid with salt rations. The word salary is derived from paying someone with salt.

The seeds of Protestant reform developed here because the Swedish people who had migrated south grew tired of having nothing while the churches required so much money for trinkets of gold. The cities could not afford to build a wall around the entire town, so they simply walled off their church. When they had to go there for refuge, they frequently only had lard, potatoes and flour which made taking refuge quite difficult. (I think they probably made lefse! My grandmother used to make “lard lefse”, which is essentially those ingredients.)

A walled church along the Danube, which is more brown than blue, on the way to Melk, Austria.

In modern times, the Wachau Valley is protected by UNESCO. No bridges are allowed, so small ferries are used to cross the Danube. The topsoil can be up to 12 feet in depth as compared to the usual of 12″.

The area also produces delicious apricots (merillans). Wachau merillan is a controlled origin name like champagne. Apricot Schnapps, the German word for brandy, along with jams and chutneys is sold here.

The Danube is second only to the Volta River in length in Europe. We completed our sailing at the Melk Abbey, a beautiful structure which houses  the oldest library in the world, and still has an operating high school of 900 students within its walls. The interior is filled with artwork and artifacts typical of cathedrals. No photos allowed inside, but its design is overbearing with rather tacky application of gold leaf.  We did walk up and back from the abbey, through the old town. Very quaint and scenic.

We had time to relax in the lounge before dinner, where the guides led an animated question and answer session on refugees and immigrants in Europe. Our crew aboard the Adagio comes from many countries: Serbia, Croatia, the Ukraine, The Netherlands,  Austria, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Germany. It is interesting to hear both sides of the issue, first hand.

After dinner we had a lesson in the German language. Auf weinerstein.

Ciao for now!

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts

Wow! 4 months….

Hi Friends!

WordPress tells me it has been four months since my last post. Meanwhile I’ve had many writing ideas, just no “true grit” to put fingers to keyboard.

The Opening and Artist’s reception for ARTQUILTSvoices occurred this Friday evening. We enjoyed the company of 170 guests who wandered through our exhibit on this “last Friday” event in downtown Cary, NC. Beautiful weather was our friend! Here is a picture of my “Intermingled Voices” piece that was juried into the show along with 38 other quilts out of 60 entrants. This was a membership-only show, so only members in our five state region were invited to submit entries. Next spring will be the big international show where everyone around the world can enter. Still, the talent in these five states is phenomenal!

Intermingled Voices: Standing in the nave of the Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba, Spain and listening to the all-encompassing pipe organ brought me back in time. Built first as a mosque, the chanting of Moslem voices dominated for 700 years. When the region was conquered by the Roman Pope, the mosque was not razed as was customary, but a Roman Catholic nave was built in the center of the mosque. Thus, the intermingling Muslim and Christian VOICES mixed in spirit, inspiring this art quilt of  Las Mezquita and the city Cordoba, past and present, that surrounds it.  The Sanfor de Letras, a city centre sculpture, gestures toward La Mesquita and the multicultural community. The mosque/cathedral has 856 red marble columns along with striking red and white marble arches, palm trees surrounding it, and an orange tree courtyard. A minaret (tower) with bells allowed the call to prayer five times per day. The Almavodor Wall and Gate, an Old Roman Gate and and Old Roman Bridge are also featured.

The work is created with my own hand-dyed cotton fabrics, some painted cottons, some monoprinted cottons, cotton batting, and a backing of upholstery fabric. There is needle-turn, reverse and machine appliqué, hand and machine embroidery, and machine quilting. So much for the gory details!

The Opening was followed by a two day workshop (Saturday and Sunday) with Katie Pasquini Masopust. We spent Saturday using watercolors to create some starter ideas and then cropping them to distill a concept or idea for a quilt. Here are just a few of my watercolors with cropped versions.

After selecting Watercolor 1 as my trial attempt, I traced it onto acetate with a fine black marker. It was taken to an office store, enlarged by 400%, and two copies were made. Here is the work in process during the 2nd day of the workshop. I still have so much work to do on it, but I will post some more pictures as the work progresses. Watch for pictures of more of the participants and their work on Katie PM’s web site.

Busy! Busy! On this rainy May Day!


Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts · Spain

Fall Colors!

Who can ignore the colors of fall?

This is my favorite season… it is in the high 50s here in North Carolina, and the colors of fall are at their peak. I have been silent on my blog due to a lack of time. Elizabeth Barton‘s classes over on the Art of Quilting website have usurped my time in a most gleeful way. I’ve been studying how to design an art quilt piece, how to dye my own fabrics, how to interpret abstract art and design abstract pieces, and now am embarking on lessons for “Working in a Series”. That is four out of the five classes she offers, and the only one I missed was her Basic Dye class which I will take as soon as it is offered. Be sure to click on Elizabeth’s link above to see her beautiful art pieces, both quilted and watercolor.

Most my pieces are not yet ready for display, but I can show you some fall colors! FallColors

These are some of the fabrics that I dyed and will use soon in an abstract piece that is keeping me busy in my Loft Studio. Below are some photos of the front and back of our house which showcase the beautiful red maple trees. We are so glad that we didn’t replace them. Future years may require us to have them removed due to their closeness to the foundation of the house…. lateral surface roots can be a problem with maples, but we will enjoy them for a few years first.


2015-10 Fall3
Front Entry

Front Entry

Home Front!


Andrea and I enjoyed a “container” class at one of the nearby nurseries, so I went wild creating fall containers.



Hopefully, they will withstand the fall temps and will thrive into the winter.

If not, they will live indoors in  the sunroom!

Here’s one little quilt I made in the dye class …. using monochromatic colors. It depicts the ancient waterwheel and Old Roman Bridge in Cordova, Spain.  More to come!

Photograph turned into a sketch on my iPad. It was the inspiration for the art quilt.

CORDOVA, SPAIN: Ancient Waterwheel, National Park, and Old Roman Bridge

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts · Spain

SAQA Benefit Auction donation…

After spending two months exploring Spain, I’ve completed my first creative attempt to record that experience. We’ve been home only 10 days, and luckily, this piece was limited to 12″x12″ by the rules committee. I have many pictures from which to draw more ideas, but the work of Antonio Gaudì of Barcelona leant itself most easily to a fabric format. Here’s a peek. It is still en route to SAQA in New Mexico, but should arrive by the deadline tomorrow since it is already in Albuquerque. It is entitled “A La Gaudì” #1. Can’t wait to try more designs using his style as a guide. The online auction of pieces by international artists will begin September 18, but until then you can read about it at the SAQA website. To see my posts and view some pictures of Gaudì’s work, click here, and here, and here, and here, and here. Enjoy!

A La Gaudì May 2015 12″x12″ Created by Mary A Ritter, all rights reserved

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Spain

Barcelona Final -Day Five

Sagrada Familia Basilica was architecturally designed and engineered by Antoni Gaudi, a devout Catholic who, never marrying, devoted his last decades to building this church. Started in 1882, the construction continues with the use of Gaudi’s plans. Gaudi was struck by a streetcar in 1926, while walking home from mass, wearing his shabby work clothes. He was taken, unidentified to the hospital as a poor man, where he remained unconscious until the following morning when he awoke and asked for last rites. The priest who came recognized him, but it was too late to help. The goal is to complete Sagrada Familia, never using government funds, by 2026, to honor what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

This is the portion most completed while Gaudi lived, The Nativity entrance. There will be 3 facades in all… The Passion  facade detailing the crucifixion, directly opposite this one is harsh, plain, and depicts the sins of man. The Glory facade will be the main entrance. There will be 18 spires, each level more elevated – the 12 Disciples, the Four Apostles, The Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, who will be able to be seen by sailors at sea!

This is considered a combination of Gothic and Art Nouveau styles….hmmm? It’s Great!image

Always honoring nature, the white peaks and lower peaks have baskets of fruit at the top. There is so much to look at and see, I’m sure I could return many times and still find new details.

Below The Nativity Facade faces the north. See what portions of the nativity you can see. It is not all shown.


The Crucifix is below.



Above, The Crucifix along with some of the organ pipes. There will be eight organs eventually.

Below, looking up through the columns designed to be palm trees with light coming in through small windows to make it appear to be a forest canopy.


Below, an example of the color in the stained glass windows.


Below, The Lord’s Prayer in Latin. These two panels will be the front doors of the Glory Facade. For some reason not understandable to me, people lined up here to have friends take pictures of them standing in front of these doors. I waited a long time to get an instant shot between groups of people.


We took so many photos and spent a lot of time here as the detail is phenomenal, but this gives an overview.

We taxied to El Born, near the Picasso Museum, and spent some time wandering the area. Then returned to the roof top deck, and later the lounge, at the hotel. We grabbed a quick bite at an excellent Italian Café, Reñé Café-Bar and Restaurant, an old confectionary factory started by the Reñé family in 1892 which later, in 1910, became a famous bakery in Barcelona. I found out I like carpaccio – shaved beef with a tiny amount of shaved of onion and garlic. Then we headed home on the Renfe AVE train, to the apartment in Valencia, arriving before dark. Barcelona is a wonderful city…. Put it on your bucket list!

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Spain

Winding Down …

 Before leaving Valenca on Saturday morning, early, by Renfe AVE train heading to Madrid, we stopped by Ristorante La Spaghetteria for one last delicious meal!



imageimageAl and Ingrid ordered the same sauce, Boscaiola which has Tomate, nata, champiñones y funghi porcini (tomatoes, cream, and porcini mushrooms) and different noodle choices- spaghetti for Al and Tagliatelle for Ingrid. Norm ordered lasagne which he has had at least twice because it is so delicious. I would have ordered it also, but the pharamacist suggested a blander diet while I try to get past the Traveler’s Malaise from drinking the Valencian water this past week. I had the Basil Pesto sauce with tagliatelle noodles, much more flavorfully uninteresting than my usual Italian food choices, but I need to be good.

imageAfter we caught one last cab in Valencia we were at the Juoquin Sorolla Tren Estación by 7AM, and on board at 9AM. This is the only train ride where we didn’t eagerly snap pictures during the ride. I did open my eyes long enough to see beautiful, rolling, green farmland at one point and to focus the camera for this selfie, and then slept blissfully as we rolled along at 300 clicks. We did gradually climb in elevation until arriving in Madrid before 11AM and transferring by cab to the “Puerto de Toledo Hotel”, meaning the gate from Toledo. If you entered or exited Madrid through this gate long ago, you would be going to or coming from Toledo, just the the road a bit.  There is actually a stonework gated arch that now has a traffic circle around it.

image image


imageWe spent some time at the Museo Sorollo. It is maintained in the house where Juoquin Sorollo lived and worked. We didn’t snap any photos, but did love his work. Above is a sampling from the brochure. It is worth googling his name to take a look … most of his work is quite large – 5×4 feet for example.

Norm, Al  and Ingrid took a day trip to Segovia today, a walled city. I know Norm will have some good pictures to show me for a future blog.

Before coming down to the lounge area in the lobby today, I snapped the activity six floors below, not at all slowed down by a Sunday morning. In the center area by the tree, I can hear a religious service with the word Alleluia. People are formed in a circle and each takes a step in unison with the others, first right, then left, then into the circle, but all very slowly. The tune is not familiar. People stream by in that direction, and the red, roofless Hop-on, Hop-off bus rolls on by. I hope to be on it tomorrow to see some sites.