Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Getting out of and still dealing with the refugee crisis

Yesterday I was featured on the TAFA blog with an entry I had written on my experiences with the refugees and how that has affected my art. Yesterday was also the day when I handed over the volunteer network’s e-mail account to my successor in that function, thus ending my involvement with the network in an ‘official’ position. That does not mean I am withdrawing completely, as today I started German lessons with another refugee from Afghanistan, who had not come to me for lessons before. Only now I am not acting as a representative or spokesperson towards the city anymore. I am being completely selfish in that I take my pick - I chose the refugees with whom I want to work. Happy to be involved with them, and helping where possible, but only for people whom I like, and where I have the feeling that they’re not taking advantage of me and my time. Who are appreciating what I am doing for them, and where I have the impression that I am making an impact. I really felt good during the German lesson today, very relieved.
Before that I had already spent an undisturbed few hours this morning stitching, concentrating on my quilts. The blog post for TAFA closes with a statement that at present I am not consciously planning any more quilts that deal with the topic of refugees, but in fact I am presently still working on finishing two that are somehow related to that topic.
One is one of my very late contributions to the International Threads challenge which was born last year when Kathy Loomis and I were in Prague, bought a set of eight embroidered Afghanistan squares from the Guldusi initiative, and challenged the group to make quilts that included these squares. All of the squares were stitched by the same woman, Nasrin. Most of the resulting quilts are finished already, and you can see them on the group’sblog. Mine – the only one still missing – finally is in the process of being finished, but there may still be a few more stitches that need to be added. I am really feeling what Gillian Travis immediately complained about when we were debating a change in size, that was to begin with this challenge. This is so much bigger than the size we were working in originally! The changed size has since then been totally revoked, back to the original size, but I had dedicated myself to working in the larger new size for this one so that Kathy Loomis’ quilt would not be the only one. For various reasons that I won’t go into detail about here I ended up using three of the embroidered squares, not only the one I picked out at first. 

And I wanted to use them in combination with a piece of fabric for an Afghanistan head dress I had hand-dyed.  I also put the top on the longarm to add some glitter through the quilting thread that I can't use on my sewing machine, and now I am adding a lot of hand stitching to tune down the presence of the stitches on the head dress fabric. 

I am not quite certain how many more stitches will still need to be added, but I did make good progress this morning.

The second quilt still related to that topic is my first finished Journal Quilt for the year, and it resulted from a remnant of the head dress fabric, with a piece of purple and a few other additions. (Only the binding needs to be finalized on the back.) And it’s not really a refugee quilt, it’s just back to playing around with fabrics, threads, composition.

Journal Quilt: The Purple Piece 1

This was a happy stitching day! 


  1. I'm glad that you are able to continue your involvement but on your terms and not to be taken advantage of.

    The latest journal quilt works well.

  2. I found your comments interesting on the TAFA blog. I am glad to know that you are finding a way to help refugees - by teaching German - which does not mean you are being taken advantage of.

    I really think your piece with the headdress included is very poignant already! So, I will look forward to seeing how the developments come to the finish.

    I have lately been very burdened about the internally displaced refugees in Nigeria. the statistics say that the numbers of deaths in Nigeria from extremists have passed beyond the numbers of deaths from the Daesh group. And so many of these remaining are children. So, I am beginning to develop ideas in my mind about that for the next refugee piece.
    If something in our work makes someone stop and think a bit longer or make a decision to do something, it will be a very good thing.

  3. That feeling of making an impact, and that one's efforts are appreciated, makes all the difference to our attitude to what we're doing. Even "just" cooking for the family day after day. Glad to hear you're starting to relax with the stitching again!