Wednesday, December 30, 2015

High Noon Abstract: Abstractions from New Zealand (and Australia)
































This is the end of the (regular) posts about 'high noon abstract art'. Probably none of the photos of these past two posts were taken during the time limits I concocted as my 'rule' in the beginning of the project anymore anyway. I'll still be taking photos of abstractions, and every once in a while I'll be posting them as well. But next year's daily art project is going to be slightly different.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

5-year-anniverary special for new subscribers to the fabric club!

Almost five years ago I shipped the first collection of the fabric club to my first customers. By now there have been 33 different collections, and you can find somewhere between 12 and 14 boxes of different fabrics in my ‚warehouse’. Next week my son and I are going to take the end-of-year-inventory to find out how much there really is!

I still enjoy taking the fabrics to market, and it is still a lot of fun to decide which colours are going to be featured in the next collection.
As far as I can tell, no same colours have been included in a collection twice, but there has always been a difference in value or hue. After all, I am keeping track of the recipes I use, and keeping a swatch book with a piece of every colour ever included in a collection.
Now, after these first 5 years, a special offer is out, valid for any for new subscriptions that reach me between now and January 9th, 2016:

Sign up for a full subscription (the conditions are stated here, and a sign-up sheet can be found here),
and, together with your first shipment, you will receive a piece of the soon-to-be-dyed anniversary-colour,
and another piece of fabric ranging from somewhere between 30 to 40 cm.

Please note that this offer is valid only for new sign-ups before and up to January 9th, 2016, and only for full subscriptions. ‘Light’ subscriptions do not qualify.

And: the colours of the January-collection have already been decided on!

Monday, December 21, 2015

More planning

I am not a passionate cook. But - unfortunately? - I am a hoarder. So frequently when I come across a recipe that sounds interesting, or I encountered some kind of food I liked and managed to get the restaurant, I end up with a clipping, or a handwritten notice about some possible way of cooking. Plus the number of cookboods that one somehow accumulates.

Not that I really stick to recipes when I am cooking, they kind of serve as a guideline for improvisation, a starting point to take off from. Most likely I am not going to have some exotic herb it calls for, and then 'Italian herbs' will just have to do.
Frequently I just throw stuff together that's in the fridge, without using any recipe at all. So already I have told myself that this collection of cookbooks must never exceed this space in the shelf in the kitchen. When a new one suddenly appears, another one has to go!  Nevertheless, there is this collection of loose papers (housed in the three folders on the right hand side of the shelf, which originally started off as only a two-folder arrangement), and every once in a while I give myself an order and try to arrange those papers in some kind of alphabetical order. Of course, there will occur the problem of 'where do I put thisß' - i.e. does 'Margrit's Turkish Salad' go under Margrit or under Turkish Salad? (I have known that I had a recipe for large white beans with tomatoe sauce, which was not to be found under beans nor white nor tomato sauce... it did re-appear under 'sage', an important component in the sauce and which I have a huge bush of in the garden and at one point was looking for recipes to do something with all this sage.)
The other day I pulled something from that shelf, and of course a whole stack of papers fluttered down around me, so I set to sorting them (out).

 It's a bit like going through the scrap bag - will I ever use this piece of fabric? Or cleaning up the work table, which I am doing in tiny steps, too - I have taken the resolution to end the year with a cleaned-up work table!
And as I was sorting the new acquisitions into the alphabet I was amazed at the kinds of more or less interesting recipes I have accumulated.

So I think throughout the coming year I will try to use one or two every week. Either to be followed pretty strictly, or as base for improvisation. And then after the meal I will decide whether that particular recipe is worth keeping. Of course, the big challenge will be to reinsert a recipe at the 'correct' spot after it has been used and decided on positively. Otherwise I will constantly be juggling a mess of papers.

Perhaps something similar could be done to the scrap boxes, too. But this is getting very ambitious. Right now I am pretty proud that I really managed to give away four boxes last week. But don't even think that there is room in the shelves now - there were more than four boxes scattered on the floor, and ...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Looking ahead.

There are still a couple of posts I would like to do about my trip to NZ and Australia, but as life is rushing on here, they may have to wait, still.
It's Christmas time - and the myth that that's a quiet and reclused time is still violently active in German culture. Except, of course, that myths rarely have any kind of connection to reality, and if you look around at the people 'enjoying' their quiet time you start wondering. I had sort of done away with clebrating Christmas before I met my husband, I had started booking a holiday on sunny Canary Islands from the last day of teaching until the last day of vacation, and used to leave it all behind. That made it easier to ignore the hassle and bustle before the event itself, too. Then of course I go and marry a man of the church - not a good combination to continue that kind of behavior!
So I am trying to work my way through Christmas get-togethers from various sports clubs, my son had a concert last weekend, the school put on an Advent Market - and they are having a number of tests scheduled just before vacation starts - and it's all the usual wild and crazy thing and I wonder what people really think Christmas is about anyway. But I'm not going to go into that here in any depth.
In between all those various things going on I am making plans for next year. I signed up for an online class with Jane Dunnewold, which will begin in January.
I have been trying to find out how much a train ticket to the Quilt Expo in Beaujolais would cost, where I am taking the exhibition of the group International Threads in April. That's not that easy as you might guess. First trip to the station, where you have to go if you want to buy an international ticket, as the computer does not do it: There is no station Beaujolais. So I went home, as I first needed to inquire the correct station from Monique. "Villefranche", she mailed, and even gave me a short description of how to get there via Lyon - well, there are several Villefranches in the computer, each with a very French addition such as 'sur le Loire' or something, and at first I could not get the computer to give me a connection via Lyon. Luckily I can still read maps, and have a wonderful atlas, and found out that the Villefranche which I considered to be the most likely suspect is on this side of Lyon, if you come from my place, so I need to go through Lyon. Of course, by the time I got to the train station to ask for the price, it was two minutes after their closing time for the day. I still don't know the price. But I am hoping that I will find out eventually.  (You can see a little Youtube video about International Threads in Maastricht here.)

I did work on a longarm commission, which was urgent as it was supposed to be a Christmas present.

I've tried to work out a pattern for the Parquet Pattern workshop which might be on my schedule for teaching next year. It's always seemed so very complicated, with 9 template pieces, which all had to be kept very much in order and orientation...

Looks nice, but some adjustments seem necessary,
as sewing itself is complicated enough!

Now I have figured out that a slight shift of the points might make all the difference - and hopefully will remove at least part of the orientation difficulties, and should reduce the number of templates at least by two.

It remains to be checked with a new set of templates.

I'm mindlessly working on a scrap quilt, which I have been planning to give myself another exercise piece for the longarm, and getting to be comfortable with the new sewing machine.

And in all this I have been very much holding back about getting too involved again with the refugees, though I have been up to visit and talk to them. One of the members of our network suggested we organize Christmas presents for them, too. But I did not bite on that. All the people in the house I have been working with are Muslims, so I don't really see a need to do that. I have got much better at drawing lines of what I won't do, that is quite a success, and was only possible after my trip!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Coming back home, slowly...

I have been home for ten days now, and it’s not been an easy time. Re-adjusting to European time was particularly difficult, the weather has not been overly favorable (although we did have a few nice and sunny days) 

This picture was actually taken in the sunshine...  
– and all in all I have not really found my bearings yet.
I had ‘worked ahead’ before leaving, dyeing all the fabrics for the November fabric club shipment, which was due right after my return. I still had to cut the pieces, pack and ship them, but that was feasible even through the haze of jetlag, even after the second night when I woke up just after midnight, and could not go back to sleep again at all.

November 2015 Fabric Club selection

Now I’m fiddling in the studio, getting to know the transformed machine that waited for me upon my return. My Bernina is now a 770, and I hope with this one I will again become a satisfied user of that brand.
The first thing I made was a bag from a piece of fabric which my son once had insisted I buy ‘for him to make something with’ when I had made the mistake of taking him with me to visit a fabric store. In a weak moment I had geven in, expecting full well that he would probably never really do something with it, although we did try to start making a bag when we got home back then. He quickly lost interest when things didn’t turn out so easy as he had expected, and the fabric had been sitting there for ages. My husband has claimed the bag for himself, promising he won’t bring home plastic carrier bags anymore. The remaining piece of fabric was turned into a pillow case for the son, so both male members of the family have received their share of the fabric, and the first attempts with the new machine.
I am working on small collages on the completion of which I am way behind :

And I have tried to rescue a top which had undergone some accidental nuno felting right before I left, when I dumped the scrap quilt into the washing machine, not remembering that it had a wool batting inside. I’ve been picking the layers apart – each of which will be reusable. They just won’t go well together anymore. I’m planning to add to the top by an additional row each in the vertical and horizontal columns. The now nicely felted wool batting will eventually become the warm and cosy heart of some other scrap quilt. And the rear piece of fabric will just have to wait its turn...

I am also sorting through my boxes, choosing which fabrics to set aside for another ‘fabric give away party’ tomorrow night. Forty boxes is just a few too many to be harboring on the shelves all the time - definitely much more than I will ever be able to use up in my entire life-time! -  and the local patchwork group will be given a surprise. 

Hoping to add at least two more boxes
to this stack before tomorrow night!