Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dream Collection for SAQA Benefit Auction

As we are heading into the final weeks before the annual SAQA Benefit Auction 2016, I have decided on the title and selection for my very personal "Dream Collection" from amongst the donated quilts.

The title is: Made in Europe  - that is in celebration of the fact that we are currently working on the final preparations for an interesting exhibition by members of the region, which also will be called 'Made in Europe'.

Here is my selection:

Friday, August 19, 2016

Trying hard to relax....

After searching for my passport the other day, having left my wallet lying around somewhere outside the home twice within the past two weeks (once on the plane to Birmingham), locking myself out of my hotel room, constantly forgetting stuff, and having to work with my little notebooks for so long to remember all the things I need to get done, I was getting worried I might have an early stage of dementia. Add to this the fact that an aunt of mine did indeed develop early dementia and is now no longer able to recognize even her daughters.
My friends' reactions who had all been trying to convince me that these things were getting to be normal at my age did not really convince me. So I got myself an appointment at the neurologist and he did a few tests. Fortunately he confirmed all my friends' diagnoses, in the EEG no real indicators were found that required further and more intensive observation (at this stage in life).
But he did say that the brain waves showed that I was "totally unrelaxed". This came at a moment when I thought I had indeed been relaxing for a while now - traveling to Birmingham, enjoying my son's school vacation without too many activities or things going on.
So since I came back from the neurologist I have been trying to figure out how to relax. For one thing, I was glad I had already decided and announced at the SAQA meeting that after all the years that I have been doing it now I would be retiring from my role as co-rep for SAQA Europe/Middle East soon. I went to the swimming pool, played the piano...
Today I took a short bike ride to see a friend of mine who is always great to be around because she is always in a good and lively mood. On the way to her house I remembered the slogan "Don't forget to stop and smell the flowers."

I changed that into "... photograph the flowers".

Sunday, August 14, 2016

After the Festival of Quilts

I spent a few days in Birmingham at the Festival of Quilts. I was so busy every single day that I was there that I found no time to post anything. It was absolutely lovely to see so many friends in such a short time, and to be in a 1000%-quilting-environment! By the time I left yesterday afternoon I had actually managed to see every exhibition on the floor, done a bit of shopping, done a few interviews for the German Guild's magazine, and a lot of talking. Of the latter I would not have minded having done more, but I was also very tired by that time, so perhaps it was not that bad a time to leave. Although I probably won't be back next year as I have a few other plans for that summer...
In any case it was very well worth the trip and I am very grateful to my parents who paid for the flight, which had been my birthday present in May!
Perhaps I will post a few pictures of interesting quilts in the next few days, but I don't know yet. Definitely my absolute favorite on the entire was this one from the Young Quilters Groups/School challenge "on the seaside":

Fishergate Primary School York, "Seagulls on the beach looking for picnics!"
We had a very nice SAQA meeting, I spent the evenings with my co-rep Chrisse Seager who had booked me into her hotel and was so gracious to keep driving me back and forth. We've been working together as co-reps so well for the past year that it has really been a wonderful time despite the fact that she stepped in after Maggie Birchenough had to resign due to her fatal illness. It will be sad to leave when it comes to the point...

At the airport I got to be a bit crabby, perhaps because I was tired after these packed days - but somehow all these methods they are now applying for check-in and security somehow are spoiling the fun. Not only was I robbed of my best set of knitting needles on the flight to Birmingham - which I had been allowed to take on board the so-called safest airline of the world only a few weeks ago when I went to Israel. But Lufthansa has now changed every thing to self-check-in, in Munich you don't even get to see a person when checking your luggage. In Birmingham they make you walk miles to the machines where you do the self-check-in, then you have to walk all the way back to drop the bag, and there there are still people at the counter - why could they not do the check-in? Not that I can't do a self-check-in properly, I can very well handle that. But I don't unterstand why we are being forced to deal with machines everywhere and in any possible situation. Wouldn't it make more sense to leave these jobs as jobs for people, to keep them employed and give them an income so they can then be tax-paying members of society? Certainly something I don't understand!

On the plane I was then sitting next to a guy from somewhere Middle East who was constantly biting, no, chewing his nails and watching/playing with his cell phone, and it looked like he was listening to some muezzin. In days like these it does give you a bit of a worry - why is this guy so nervous that he has to be chewing his nails constantly (he wasn't eating his meal either...) I plugged in my music and started some hand stitching on my next Journal Quilt to keep myself occupied and not worry too much.

And today, although that one isn't finished yet, I started piecing the next one, because I only have this coming week to finish both of them if I don't want to be kicked out ... But I am optimistic I will make it.

So it's good to be back home.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


The guys are watching some competition in Rio, and I have done a bit of mindless sewing to recuperate. Mindless sewing as in  Nine-patching the two differently sized 'collateral damages' that arose from the "Dear Jane"-project of the German Patchwork Guild which I foolishly committed myself to at the beginning of the year. And which has by now turned into a topic of a column I write for the Guild's magazine, reporting on my progress (or lack thereof) and emotional tangles that occur with this momentous undertaking. So there is no way I can drop out and let it be. Right now I am not quite so far behind on it as I already have been, but there is still a bit of catching up to do. The collateral damages are two who-knows-when-they-will-be-finished Double Nine Patches which I started when I had managed to forget seam allowances for one of the Dear-Jane-Blocks (not thinking far enough ahead that that size might just pop up as needed later, perhaps), and when I was unguarded enough to 'like' the size that appeared in another block and thought that might make a nice one just as well. Un-like on facebook, 'liking' something like that quickly turns into a committment, but, also, a welcome occasion for mindless sewing when recuperating.

My slowly growing stack of Dear-Jane-blocks (with liberties
taken, and a few extra-curricular items I am not allowed to write
about on the internet before publication dates of the magazine)

The growing stack of Double-Nine-Patches made from 1 1/2 inch strips...

... and the stack of Nine-Patches made from 1 1/4 inch strips,
which will eventually be turned into Nine-Patches, too.

These projects are also welcome for using up scraps from cutting yardage at the stand.
So what was I recuperating from? I spent most of the morning searching for two items. I am not a tidy person, I readily admit that, but of these two items I really knew that I could not have lost them: my passport, and an envelope with over 400 Australian Dollars. The former I had come home with from Israel only four weeks ago, but it wasn't where I usually put my passport to avoid having to search for it high and low, nor in any of the bags I had taken, not in my backpack, the fleece-jacket which I had worn only in German parts of that journey. But I wanted to use it on Wednesday, when I am going to Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. True, Brexit hasn't really happened yet, so I should still be able to travel with only my national ID, but I do prefer to know where my passport is. And the Dollars I also wanted to take to Birmingham with me because instead of trying to get them back into my banking account in New Zealand where they originated from in November - which I have tried, but is too long a story to tell - I will just use those as my travel funds and exchange them into British pounds. Should give me a good amount of spending money, I would think.
Anyway - the dollars appeared first, the envelope turned up in one of my un-filed stacks which need being taken care of, and then my mind was settled enough to forgo searching for the passport, do the last bit of ironing for the July fabric-club selection which is due to be shipped. Then I picked up my son from basketball camp (the house is indeed awfully quiet when he is not around!), and after that my passport jumped at me in the kitchen where I must have accidentally left it after returning from Israel. So everything is alright now, but I just needed to cool down a bit, because I hate searching for things. Every time it happens, I tell myself I will be better organized from now on, I will file away all slips that relate to taxes, I will not let things accumulate in growing unordered stacks... all in vain. At least I know where I can find my airplane ticket - I can always print it out again from the computer! But good intentions remain.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Reflections of the day - July

I found so many beautiful reflections in July that I decided to enlarge the selection a bit because it would have been too bad to exclude any of these!

Friday, July 29, 2016

In. And Out.

The past few weeks have been far too busy, and art had to step into the background. I don’t like that, really, but on the other hand I did like having the opportunity to do a bit of (paid) substitute teaching of German as a Foreign Language to refugees. It kept me pretty busy, and gave my son an insight into how it would be if Mom were working outside the house, ‘down’ in the city. Because that means commuting, early trains, and coming back only after he comes back from school. He didn’t really say anything about it, but I think he understood how privileged he has been so far. Last week, though, I found out that I will be getting the 10-hours-a-week teaching job I had applied for here in our town. So much more convenient! The one I was substituting for I also could have continued next school year if I had wanted to, but this local one is definitely my preference - fewer hours, a commute by bike of max 5 minutes, it seems that the school is much better organized, and I will be part of a very nice team of teachers.
I have started dyeing the July collection of the fabric club – but because more things are coming up, it will be shipped a few days late this time.
And while Germany has experienced a series of attacks and massacre shootings last week that is highly disconcerting – especially as the media are blaming it all on Angela Merkel, a line of argument that just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense - a good piece of news last week was that several of the refugees I have been dealing with over the last year have managed to pass exams that will get them school diplomas. That’s crucial when trying to get jobs in Germany, and the lack of report cards from their home countries is one of the major difficulties many refugees are facing. They’re almost ‘in’ now in that they can start further educational programs, or an apprenticeship. And I am really happy for them, and a little bit proud that I could help them along this path.

I got into Wide Horizons V for Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, shipped that quilt, got rejected from Masters Quilt at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, but entered it in the Contemporary Section and shipped it a while ago, got rejected from the competition in Alsace, had one quilt accepted for “Stuff for Thought” in Nuremberg, which needs to be sent soon, sent in applications to the Quilt & Fiber Arts Festival and am planning to send in to Quilt=Arts=Quilts. Luckily I had made enought quilts to have several to choose from. And haven't yet completely lost orientation regarding which quilt was meant to be entered where...

But I am behind on my Journal Quilts ... need to get going on that, when my son is away at Basketball camp next week. Because I don't want to have to drop out on that one!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

“You just have to start to dare!“

This weekend I am teaching a workshop on improvisation for a group in Herzogenaurach, near Nuremberg. They are a group of experienced quilters, with a lot of expertise between them and no technical difficulties. 
Except for the fact that we had lots of flies in the classroom the first day that seemed impossible to get rid off (they appear to be multiplying when you swat at them) it is a very pleasant workshop. Hot!

The nicest moment of the first day came after I challenged one of the participants, who had seemed just a little bit sceptical at first and said she could not sew really small pieces, to make a smaller one yet – no more than two inches square. When that one turned out just about 2 ½ inches, she turned to her off-cuts next to the sewing machine and made another one, really small. These are exercises that are supposed to loosen students up, and then she looked at me, smiled a big broad smile and said “You just have to start to dare! Now this is beginning to be a lot of fun." And continued to turn very creative and inventive.

In the evening we went to a typical frankonian restaurant, where I caught this magnificent reflection: