Thursday, May 31, 2012

Colour of the month











Colour of the month for June: purple. (Though I have an impression that it might be rather difficult to get many pictures that are not of flowers...)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New in May

The month of May has brought quite a few changes in my studio. Not only did I get my new machine early in the month. (Which as of yet I have used far too little these past weeks due to my 10-day-absence for teaching and as a vendor.)
The second big change that occurred was the new sewing table, which I had ordered along with the machine from the specialized company RMF (Rauschenberger – Möbel mit Funktion): they produce furniture for sewing utensils and I finally wanted a large expanse around the amchine’s free arm, putting an end to getting stuck on the edges of the quilting table with large or even smaller quilts.
Of course, this monster of a table got delivered on the day before my departure for Karlsruhe and Einbeck, without giving us even the slightest of chances to have it installed in my studio before I left. And when I say “monster”, it is not exactly an exaggeration. My husband had insisted that I get an oversized version to avoid frustration when working on larger quilts, so this one is 1,10m deep and 1,70m wide. Which makes it huge. And heavy. And it arrived fully mounted. Somehow I was able to convince the delivery guys to bring it into the house, but they disappeared so quickly that I was not able to give them a tip – and I really think they disappeared so quickly to prevent me from even attempting to persuade them to bring it in any further than they did.
Of course, there was absolutely no time to even think about how to get it upstairs before I left, and my husband was not exactly pleased to have this huge box sitting in the living room during my prolonged absence.

unpacked, and upside down
When I called from Karlsruhe he suggested I make plans where in the living room I was going to instal my sewing machine, he saw no way how we were ever going to get that thing upstairs or through the door of my studio. Fortunately RMF was present at the event in Karlsruhe and I managed to talk to the director who gave me a few hints about how to carry it, and he also promised he would be willing to give us support via the telephone in case we really had to take it apart. “Two strong men will definitely be able to carry it upstairs,” he assured me. My husband remained sceptical, but resigned himself to ten days in the company of a huge package.
After my return from Einbeck I immediately started clearing up and out of what was my former studio arrangement. My old sewing table was scheduled to be picked up by a used furniture store two days later.

The cutting table was to be relocated, and the new sewing table was supposed to take its place, facing the wall.
Then my husband started acquainting himself with the intricacies of screws, electrical wires and how it all connected. Thanks to the telephone-hotline, he managed to take out exactly those screws that were necessary to separate the table top from the lower part.
The two of us then slowly carried the very heavy parts upstairs, separately, one step at a time. 

There is absolutely no way even three strong men would have been able to carry it upstairs fully mounted! And I assume the movers are going to think us crazy when they have to bring it back down should we really have to move...
Upstairs, the separate parts had to be put back together again. 

And we now have only one little screw left over – which my husband claims he did not open.
I did have to endure a number of slightly cynical comments about how I would have done ony my own, and what a quilter’s husband had to go through these days. But he did not let me down, and finally everything was at its new place (here the old table’s glass top is still there, being stored until pickup time):

It was left to me to do the final adjustments of the lift with which the machine can be stored beneath the table top in case you want to. Now the plane is exactly even with the machine’s free arm and quilting should be unimpeded.

Now everything is in its place. Work can resume. And big thank you goes to my helpful and supportive husband who never lets me down in taxing situations!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

SAQA's Aurifil Signature Thread Collection

All the ongoing things and pressure before I left for teaching a workshop at the Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe and subsequently premiering as a vendor at a larger patchwork event in Einbeck had slowed down many of my internet activities in the first part of the month – I hadn’t really been keeping up with reading newsletters and stuff. But thanks to Kathy Loomis’ first post on the SAQAAurifil Signature Thread Collection I was alerted to this poll while it was still ongoing and voted for my favorite selection sometime during the week before I left.

These were the three options you had:

set A

set B

set C

When I had completed my click (on C) I immediately found out that I had voted for what was until then the majority’s choice, so in a way I was told that, amongst those who had already voted until then, my taste is nothing out of the ordinary. Of course my decision was based on a much less sophisticated reasoning than Kathy’s line of argument in her second post on the topic,which appeared about two days after I cast my vote. I really only chose according to “which of these combinations would I want to have in my supplies?”

When I look at the beauty of palette of the entire Aurifil color card and my own favorites on it I think my very personal Signature Selection might have been a different one than the ones SAQA chose to include in their three different choices. But we werent' asked to pick our personal signature collection in this case.

Aurifil's color card - I just fell in love
with the range of beautiful colors when I first saw this card.

Aurifil has been one of my favorite threads for quite a while – which is one reason why I was so upset when I started having the breakage problems while trying to practise my machine quilting around/after Christmas. Aurifil, however, is not easy to get in Germany, so I stack up whenever I happen to be at a major event where you can find it. I do have lots of colors, though far from all of them!

The other brand of thread that I bought in search of the thread that wouldn’t break during my machine troubles is King Tut. These also come in a nice color scheme, and the thread has a very pleasant feel to it. 

I admit that I am not too thrilled with the length of color changes in their variegated colors, which follow too quickly for my taste, especially in the ones that have more contrast. But I do like their color palette, too. My plan right now is to pick out whichever color is needed from my supplies, regardless of the brand. I need to really find out how the new machine takes to them anyway.
Oh - and by now the result of the SAQA-signature election has been published, and I found out that I voted for what became the final winner. Given that I will take up the post as second co-representative for the Europe/Middle East region of SAQA on the first of August, I am quite pleased to see that my taste is in accordance with the majority of voters with regard to the threads that were chosen to represent the organization.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Little escap(ad)e: Fagus Factory in Alfeld

Between last weekend, which I spent teaching a workshop at the “Nadelwelt” (World of Needles) in Karlsruhe, and the beginning of the four-day-event by the German Patchwork-Guild in Einbeck, where I will be selling my hand-dyed fabrics, I had two days off. My husband had suggested that I should rather save several hundred miles of driving and go north directly instead of going home Sunday night only to leave again early Wednesday morning. So I took a room in a modest guest house in Alfeld, north of Einbeck, in an area that every German child has heard about if it has been listening to Grimms’ fairy tales: it is the area of the “Seven mountains” where the Grimms located the story of Snow White and the seven dwarfs, and which is mentioned in the story when the stepmother asks the mirror about how beautiful she is.
I went there on purpose, because I knew that I would have a wonderful opportunity to educate myself: Alfeld is the city where Walter Gropius, architect and founder of the Bauhaus school, got his first chance at realizing a major building. 

Sketch for Fagus factory in Alfeld

The industrial site of the Fagus factory, begun in 1911, has been beautifully restored and was awarded the title of Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site last year, which I learned from Mary during our Bauhaus-workshop in November

Fagus building today

Originally Fagus works was a production plant for shoe lasts, over the years other areas of business have been added. 

Shoe last from about 1915

The site is still a working production site, but the very first original buildings have now been turned into a permanent exhibit on Walter Gropius and Carl Benscheidt, the founder of the Fagus factory 
who accepted Gropius’ letter of application and was an essential part in the beginning and building of Gropius’ career. Further parts of the exhibit are a documentation of the renovation process, the development and history of shoe making and shoe lasts, a section on forests and their importance for the world climate, current-day tehcnical use of massive wood in building and industry, derived timber products, the people who work at Fagus, and the history of the firm and its position in the overall network of Unesco World Heritage sites. They also have changing special exhibits in the basement:

Special exhibit in the basement

The entire exhibit is very informative and well worth spending the larger part of the morning on. Each section is located on a separate floor of the building, which used to be the storage and drying location for the beech wood needed as raw material for the lasts.

Between the various floors you pass through the restored stairway, and the overall architecture already gives an impression of what was later to be called the “Bauhaus style”.

In the section on forests you get to see one complete cubic metre of wood – and you learn that it takes between two and five seconds for this amount of wood to grow back (measured over the entire size of Germany), and you need between five and ten cubic metres of wood for the construction of the wooden beams that carry a large roof.

On the premises is also a little café where you can get a warm meal if you happen to finish your visit around twelve o’clock – which is when the Fagus workers come to fetch their lunch. I happened to be sitting next to two nice researchers from New Zealand and had a nice chat with them while waiting for the rain to stop that had started while I was in the exhibit. Which didn’t happen, though, so I now have a new umbrella.

There is also one little building facing the railroad tracks that hasn’t been restored yet. I think they should restore this one as well and put the bookstore or souvenir shop in there:

If you’re planning on coming to Germany for a visit any time soon, and happen to be more in the northern part of the country, and are interested in Bauhaus history, this place is definitely a “must see”!