Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Magic of Color

This evening I received the sad news that Maggi Birchenough, my former co-rep with SAQA for the region Europe/Middle East passed away this morning. It was expected, because she resigned from her post because of severe illness, but she was hoping to live to Festival of Quilts in August, and I am very sad that she did not make it. Just a few too many friends have died of cancer this past year, I must say – or are still fighting it. Not a good note to end the day on...

I recently finished my second Journal Quilt, but still have to upload it to the group website. And I am working on the third.

Piece of Purple 2 (Journal Quilts 2016)

I managed to sign up two quilts for Wide Horizons, way before the end of tomorrow’s deadline, too. Not those I had originally meant to be signed up for this one, because of size restrictions... is this an ever-recurring topic with me? Getting kind of tired of that, really!

And I took the plunge and started a quilt which should fit the challenge of the Ste. Marie-aux-Mines for this year. When I first read the title ‘Magic of Colour’ I was a bit put off, because it is such a wide and non-committal title. But on the other hand, now that I am using it to get back into serious creative mood, the openness is welcome. Basically no restrictions apply, except for the size. So right now I am piecing orange scraps.

To be honest - when I first conceived of the idea for this quilt, I thought I had more of them, but it seems I must have cleared them out pretty thoroughly when I was making a blue and orange blanket for my son. There are still enough of them there to get this one finished, I am sure. But then I will actually be without orange scraps. Now that's a good thought to end the day on, after all.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Little escap(ad)e: Bremen and surroundings

Earlier this week I spent a few days visiting a friend in Bremen. While I was there, I made another basket, smaller this time, and with a different kind of bottom layer, but perfectly in keeping with ‘my newest quest’ that I wrote about in my last post. I enjoy making baskets, but I don’t think I will become an expert or a real or regular basket weaver.

While up there, we took the opportunity and visited the German Museum of Emigration in the port of Bremerhaven. I have never been so impressed with a museum as this one! 

A migrant's luggage in the 1920s

Uta 'on board' a migrant sailboard - it really felt as if the boat was heaving
and swaying, and we could not figure out how they managed to get this effect!

Many Germans emigrated to the US, and so part of the tour is a replica of
New York's Grand Central Station, from where they would proceed to other cities.

Perhaps it is the topic in the urgency of the current situation, perhaps it is the knowledge that at some point my paternal grandfather contemplated emigration to Brazil – what would have been, had he actually gone? And why did he not go after all, if the thought had been so serious that his children still passed on the tale many decades later? For one thing, I would not be alive, and the other thing is what does that tell me about his political standpoint in the early 1930s ... or was it merely economical...?

One evening we went to the art museum late night opening, the Kunsthalle Bremen. One entire room is currently alive with Sarah Morris’ painting Jardim Botânico , impressive,  bold and inspirational in choice of colors and shapes.

Image taken from Sarah Morris' website

Another site-specific installation in the museum is James Turrell’s Above – Between – Below, which extends over three floors of the museum and gives a different perspective on each floor, looking up, looking and and down, and looking down. 

I also took mental note of several pieces exhibited in the museum to quote for my next (pending) assignment in my online class with Jane Dunnewold. An evening very well spent!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My newest quest

The fabric club has been going for five years now. Sometime last summer I ran out of the tissue paper I had been using for wrapping the selections before putting them into the envelopes to be shipped. I was using that because it was there – I had at some point bought it to wrap quilts in, which I found rather tedious, though, because the sheets were smaller than most of my quilts and basically I had turned to making fabric bags for the quilts. After I had run out of those tissue papers, I kept thinking I needed to get some additional protective wrapping, but I was busy with the refugees, sometimes low on money – I was putting it off. So I took an easy way out and sent the selections in the plastic bags which up til then I had only been using for the packages to be sold at market. One friend asked me whether that was going to stay like that... no, it wasn’t, but then I went to New Zealand, I was stressed out, and I just did not have the leisure and nerve to sit down and look for a new solution.
After returning, I tried to find a good deal on bags made from recycled newspapers, but wasn’t successful (yet).
Then I read an article about a blogger in Germany, and heard about her on the radio, who is trying hard and – according to the marketing – successfully to live a life without plastic. I bought her book (the title translates as ‘Better living without plastic’) and, as much as I love her approach, I realized that although it is a very worthy cause, it is very difficult to follow through. Try to go shopping without buying anything in plastic – impossible! Even in an organic store. And out here in the country there is no such thing as one of the obviously coming shops for 'shopping without plastic'. What is worse in terms of effects on the climate change and environmental pollution – driving 60 miles to Munich in order to get to such a store (time, energy, pollution, cost!) or buying a packet of something sealed in plastic?
I have long since stopped taking plastic bags in supermarkets (we don’t have the big brown paper bags as they do in the US), I always carry a little bag or basket with me, and I have even had a little bit of success in driving the point home with my husband.
So I resolved that I would try hard(er), but not stress myself about it too much: be aware, look for options, but don’t stress myself or fret if it’s not possible.
What I have done is I sewed a few reusable see-through bags (organza) for packing fruit and other loose items which I take with me when I go shopping. They prevent apples from rolling around, they are washable, and they last much longer than any plastic bag which, of course, could be reused as well. Organza rather than any other piece of ordinary fabric so that the cashier can see what's inside, and doesn't get upset.

They make a good present, too. I 'wrapped' a present for my friend into one of these bags a couple of days ago, so that made two presents for her! 
I’m also thinking about designs for these reusing scraps, but that is still in the very beginning.

And on Friday I finally sat down and ordered my paper bags for the coming fabric club selections. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Benefit Auction Piece finished

This past week I put the finishing touches onto my donation for SAQA's annual Benefit Auction. Now all it needs is the sign with the title, and then it can go into the mail.

Play of Lines XXXIX

Yesterday I spent all day dyeing the next fabric club. It's the first time I've done all of it in one day. Though, to be honest, the washing and ironing is still going on today (and tomorrow). I've been going up and down into the cellar quite a bit as we have only that one washing machine...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Catching up by doubling up

As I was lying in bed this morning, waiting for my automatically timed day-light lamp to switch itself on fifteen minutes before the alarm clock is set to go off I realized why it’s been so difficult for me to make the switch from being the refugee helper in the network to ‘no more’ – at least I think I understood why.
We live in a remote town where we moved because my husband’s job, and which is a rather closed community. ‘They’ don’t really like outsiders here, and all the years we’ve been here, I have found it difficult to find like-minded people where I felt I could belong. It just wasn’t easy to make friends. With being a member of the network, I suddenly had a group which gave me that feeling, all in all, even though, of course, not everybody active in that group was exactly ‘my type’, nor would I call everybody amongst them my friends. With a bit of international flair, which I’d been craving, too. Now that feeling of belonging is gone. Of course they are still nice enough to my when they see me (but we see each other less often), and as I keep saying I haven’t taken myself out of the activities entirely, I am still somehow ‘with it’. But I am very conscious about the fact that because I changed my kind of involvement I also changed my position, and the degree of my ‘belonging’.
Sudden revelation this morning! Add to that another pubertarian eruption of my son at breakfast this morning (he’s been having them regularly now – at barely reaching eleven I fear what’s lying ahead of us in the next year!), and you may come up with the kind of morning I had... Kind of low.

But I have slowly been catching up with all the things I have been putting off for too long, and working little bits and ends to narrow down that list. A phone call here (actually at least three, because the person I needed to talk to wasn’t available whenever I called, but also not answering my e-mail), an e-mail there, and that list is not finished off yet...
The best things are those where you do something once but manage to make that fit for two of the points on the list. As when I decided that one composition I pinned for my online class with Jane Dunnewold will be turned into the next Journal Quilt with a piece of purple. This is the composition as it was pinned to my wall originally,

this is how I altered it on Jane’s suggestion that the blue strips were too much contrast, too disconnected with the rest of it all,

and this is how I am currently thinking I will pull a corner from it, stitch it all together and make it Purple Piece 2:

not a very well lighted picture, but it gives you an idea...

I am also still working on my 2016 Benefit Auction piece for SAQA – a developmental stage of which I showed last time, turned in as a homework for the Dunnewold-class as well, and which is slowly coming along. (The washers from the first picture will still be added, they just didn't fit in well now.)

Little steps of progress.
As for the sense of belonging – I’ve spent most of my time here without that feeling, perhaps I can get used to that again. But we have also decided that we are going to regularly invite a young American basketball player to our home. That might take care of a bit of international flair, without the refugee crisis component.

And I am looking forward to some quilt related international travels – a trip to France in April, to Israel in June, and to Birmingham in August. After all, I’m not entirely trapped here in this remote little place.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Stitching away.

After a long time of procrastination, then changing plans, and finally, a lot of stitching, I did finish my quilt for International Threads on the Afghanistan Embroidery Square - the challenge was issued not quite a year ago! But good things take time, I'm happy with the way it turned out, and think it was important, too, in getting me back into stitching mood. This quilt is 60 x 120 cms, and the larger piece from which the Journal Quilt which I mentioned a little while ago is an 'offspring'.

I have also been learning more about setting the tension on my longarm machine as I am working on quilting a quilt for one of the participants in my classes two weeks ago.

I have always been reluctant about actually taking a screw-driver to the bobbin and changing something there, which you are frequently told is a no-no with 'ordinary' sewing machines. But the Handiquilter really needs it.
And I have started work on the piece I want to send to the 2016 SAQA Benefit Auction. Again using a piece taken from a UFO from way back, with added-on-stitches and some extras. Not finished yet, but I like what I see.

Just a question whether I will manage to finish it before the early-bird-deadline...
In another sphere of stitching, I have finished my prototype for the scarf that I want to use as a fund-raiser for charity, starting in May. Except I can't find the photo right now...
And I made another set of bed clothes for my husband for his birthday from hand-dyed sateen from my stash. He claims he sleeps best in these - and I still have enough to keep him sleeping well for the rest of his life! An easy enough addition to birthday presents for several years to come, although he does get something else besides as well.