Saturday, June 23, 2018

Thoughts on a storm bound island

So it was World Refugee Day a few days ago. 

Screen Shot from Instagram -
I did not even know that so many emojis exist for people's faces...

An unprecedented total of 68,5 million people are ‘registered refugees’. That is more than the total population of Great Britain.

Screen Shot from Instagram

Or almost twice the population of California, or Canada. Or the population of the area that used to be “West Germany” only a little more than 25 years ago.
If we take into consideration that almost the entire population of the United States is descended from migrants (except that they were called ‘immigrants’ back then), and the fact that migration has been a common habit in human history, that shaped the world (otherwise we would still all be in Africa), it is not understandable that we are reacting to people on the move today in the way that we have been recently. Only a very limited part of the (im)migrants that came to the US came for political or religious reasons, the causes that nowadays make a ‘good’ refugee, eligible for political asylum. They were virtually all of them on the search for a better life due to the economic circumstances back home.
Germany believes it has a ‘homogenous’ population. Not true. A fifth of the population has a ‘migratory background’. Not to mention the fact that even in historic times quite a bit of movement went on between the tribes of Europe...  My grandfather fled from Eastern Germany by swimming through a river to get across the border, and my grandmother and two of her daughters were allowed to follow after a few months later in what was called ‘family reunification’ back then, and what many German politicians do not want to allow for refugees with a certain kind of refugee status. Of course, he was labelled a ‘good’, i.e. political refugee because he was fleeing from political oppression by the bad communists. And it was the Fifties. And he was a German fleeing to Germany. 
But that doesn’t really make it a different situation to young Afghans today, who come to Germany in search of a safe life without Taliban interference, and who would like to have their families join them in their new place. But because the German government has decided that Afghanistan is a ‘safe’ country (ignoring the fact that people get blown up in the street all the time, how safe an environment is that…?) and they should not be fleeing that country to begin with, we won’t let them have their family with them.
How come we are making a difference in refugee status anyway, why do we have to differenciate between a political refugee and an economic refugee? Yes, a war is a terrible reason for having to leave home, nobody should have to endure that. But economic reasons are equally terrible, not any less valid, and certainly ‘political refugees’ aren’t a better kind of refugees than ‘economic refugees’. Which is the current state of politics in European countries. Because we have to face it: both, the wars and the economic conditions that people are fleeing from, were heavily influenced or created by Western politics and economic dealings. The affluent societies are responsible for the chaos that is characterizing the world situation today. And we cannot refuse to take that responsibility by building walls to keep people out of our countries, or by not allowing boats which have taken refugees on board in the Mediterranean entry to a safe port. 

World Refugee Day. When are the affluent societies going to understand that we need to make every day a World Responsibility Day? That we have to create living conditions around the world so that nobody would want to leave their country? It is our economic and political system that has caused all this trouble. We are exporting weapons, and then we are surprised that these weapons are used for wars, and that people who live in areas where wars are happening don’t want to stay there. We are exploiting and changing agricultural systems for our economic benefit and then we are surprised that people starve because their harvests are failing. We are supporting corrupt political leaders who will eagerly allow our economic systems to obtain cheap resources (and divert a good amount of the profits into their own pocket) and then we are surprised that young people who are fed up with being deprived of chances in their own countries are taking to the road, the rubber boat, and want their share of livelihood in our countries.
As I am spending these few days on a remote island, currently storm bound and uncertain whether the ferries will resume service by tomorrow when we are scheduled to leave these thoughts keep circulating in my head.

The past few years and my involvement with refugees have shown and taught me so much that has enriched my life in terms of friendships, understanding, intensity of living. But German politicians are squabbling about these issues of refugee-crisis-management in a manner that one wonders regarding their sanity of mind. The treatment of migrant families on the US-Mexican border, and the continuing demands for construction of a wall by the American administration is appalling. We have only one world to live in. And there are many other people besides us, the rich ones. Their rights are equal to ours, that is something we have declared, and there was a time when we were proud to have arrived at such a declaration. We must finally begin to fill it with life. Every Day is World Responsibility Day.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Vacation on an Island

I love islands. The feeling of being close to the sea everywhere, the air, the wind, the smell… I even think I would like to live on an island - perhaps that is why I am so much attracted by New Zealand? In any case, it is always good for me to be on an island, and right now I am spending a week on Heligoland with a friend of mine. 

Helgoland is Germany’s only island in the High Sea, all others are so close to the shore that they don’t qualify for that. 

There are several kinds of seals, sea lions etc. around, and they tend to be curious.
Frequently they are the ones who don't obey the rule to keep a minimum of
30m distance...

It's a paradise for bird watchers, too, and I am amazed at
the numbers of huge tele-lenses I see people carrying around.
Made me even more pleased with the results I get from
my little pocket-size camera that I use for my photos and
that is very light weight!

So there is quite a bit of Duty Free Shopping, even lots, which also attracts Day tourists - they are the only drawback to being here. But we are finding our way around them.
We have developed rituals very quickly, and we are having a wonderful time. I go for a morning run almost every morning (skipped today because of the weather, though) - around the island counter clock-wise once, and clock-wise to get back, then I stop at the bakery.
At low tide, we go beach combing, and we have become expert sea-glass-spotters.

I admit to developing a kind of addiction to this... didn't think I could still feel
such greed.

We are amazed at how different the harvest is on different beaches. And there is lots of glass around. Makes you think more about the micro-plastic problem so much being talked about, too, but we are on vacation.
We have gone swimming (water temperature: 15 degrees centigrade).

And we drink lots of tea and knit. I just finished a white jacket that I made in brioche stitch, from handspun yarn, and I had only started it in March, so that was a quick finish. 

Cutting the last thread

Today is much cooler, too, so this comes in very handy.

Saturday, June 9, 2018


At the beginning of the week I spied on Instagram the hastag for the FoQ-Warmup-Challenge. Immediately I wanted to participate, but it took me a few days to get going. Only on the fifth day did I join in, and posted all of the prompts at once. That is probably not the proper way to do it, but #betterlatethannever, I thought.
In any case I wanted to present my selection here as well.


Log Cabin, one of my alltime favorite patterns, although it has
been a while since I made one... This one is still in use and I
still like it, but it is worn a bit, some fading has occurred
and it may not be a masterpiece. However, I like it just as
you can only like your first quilt.


There are always many works in progress, so this one was hard to choose. I decided on the A Scrap a Day Project, ongoing, with progress in leaps and bounds...


A part thereof ... no further comment necessary, I think.


This one wasn't hard at all in terms of deciding. But hard in that I don't have a picture of this quilt except for a photo from the flyer of the museum where I saw this quilt in 2006. I don't think any other quilt has moved me as deeply as this one (although one by Roberty LePoidevin came pretty close!). This is a quilt that was made by former slaves just after the American Civil War, and I was lucky to see it in an exhibition in the Raleigh Museum.


Is another work in progress, that I have posted about before and that is nearing completion, although there is still some work that needs to be done: my UDHR-quilt that I was working on during the textile art symposium in May.

Although I did not play by the rules and only posted my pictures on the last day, I do like challenges like this. It's fun to pick out pieces like and present them for others to see.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Scrap a Day - Progress Report

During the Textile Art Symposium I fell a bit behind again with my Daily Art Project because the whole week was so completely exhausting that it was simply impossible to sit down and stitch a bit in the evening. But I had the brilliant idea to at least choose a scrap every day and pin it to the foundation fabric. Brilliant in that respect that the pressure kept mounting, and now that I have been trying to catch up I keep spilling the pins all over the place and am not quite certain that I manage to find them all again. So I might not be making friends when people step into them sometime in the future… 

But I have returned to the routine during our holiday. I am catching up, in fact, I think I am actually up to date. And I have also resorted to a relatively thorough procedure in working myself through the book of embroidery stitches that I have at hand. Instead of opening it up at random whenever I think I should try a different stitch, I have begun in the back and am mentally ticking off the various stitches after I have tried them. Some I don’t bother with if I think they are not suitable to the project, but some I am determined to master better. For example the bullion stitch. I had done that one before, but it had completely dropped from my memory. Now I am trying to figure out for me decent routine to be certain that it will actually look nice.

With some I realize that I don’t like them. As with this one, ‘Braided Stitch’. Then I take a different turn and do one which I know well and like.

Some I unwillingly change - as with this zig-zag stitch, 

in which I forgot the second downward bar on the return. Might have to come back to this one and try the ‘correct’ version at a later point.

 For this one I should have used a thicker thread.

Some I make up myself.

Some are done quick and easy.

This is a view of the piece of linen I am currently working on.

I am learning a lot with this project!