Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Writing, stitching, coaching

At the beginning of last week, after my return home from France, I spend quite a bit of time translating an interview, which I had been conducting via e-mail, for the magazine of the German Patchwork Guild. The interview had only been arranged for two days before the deadline, and it took a couple of days for the interviewee to respond, then a while to translate... As I had been told that the magazine editor was not too happy if contributions came in late, that added a bit to my anxiety. But I have contributed an impressive six or seven pages to the magazine, in  two weeks of officially being a member of the writing staff - my contract requires me to contribute approx. eight per issue, i.e. every three months. I guess that is definitely a well-fulfilled contract for 'my' issue. Now I am curious how it all will look in print!
Parallel to translating I finished my Journal Quilt for April and spent time working on one of my way overdue pieces for International Threads. It is supposed to feature 'autumn colours', and at first I pieced scraps from that colour group.

This background I overlaid with an enlarged and slightly cropped drawing by Ellsworth Kelly.

Right now I am in the process of stitching, after machine quilting around the outer edges of the petals has been finished.
And I have been giving a considerable amount of thought to how I will go about marketing the knit-along I have been working on.

Prototype no. 1, lace yarn, wide ...

prototype no. 2, sock yarn, narrower, ...

and prototype no. 3, currently still under construction (but almost done!),
with the final order of patterns.

Together with my test-knitter Maike  we set the starting date for mid-June. This gives me a few more weeks to get the word out, and the days at Nadelwelt Karlsruhe, where I will be selling fabrics, to lure even more people into joining the fun. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours leaving lots of announcements on various German 'knitting' related pages on facebook, sending announcement mails to more than 200 addresses in my e-mail-account (I had no idea I even had that many listed, and that's only German addresses!) A few people have already signed up, which makes me happy. It will be interesting to see, how many people will actually join.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Getting home

Saturday at Beaujolais was a relatively quiet day in the show, and I took a little bit of time to ponder about my suitcase problem. Partly inspired by one of the refugees who has a good hand at repairing things and is now using a washing machine which somebody else had discarded as 'broken'. He cleaned it thoroughly, got all the calcium out, and it works fine. At first I had thought I would ask him to repair my suitcase when I got home, but the getting there ... So as long as the suitcase was still empty I got into its inner parts and sections, unzipping the lining, finding the mechanism etc. And lo and behold, I did manage to put it into the extended position - still (or again) jammed stuck, but at least pullable.

On Sunday I set out early, catching a ride in the taxi with Els, because I figured I would be up anyway, and it doesn't really make much of a difference whether I wait at the station or at the hotel. But  I had forgotten that on Sundays the breakfast buffet at the hotel only opened half an hour later, so I set out without breakfast - no baker at the station - luckily I had an apple and a few nuts to tie me over for a few hours. The second change of trains provided enough time to get something to prevent immediate death of hunger.
By then I was rather annoyed at the connections I had been given, because I realized in Karlsruhe that I could have got home an hour earlier if I had changed trains there instead of going on to Mannheim, but the train company's computer had not provided that information... However, no real delays, "all connecting trains will be reached" (the Germlish announcement on the trains), and I was back home in the evening. On the last station to change, the handle even suddenly let itself be slid down - however, I was very distrustful and insisted it stay in the extended position. Good I did, because it immediately stuck again.
When I have taken out the quilts, perhaps a bit of oiling will do a trick, but I don't think this is a suitcase to go on the plane again!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Est-ce que je peus avoir une théière, s'il vous plait?

I am still in France attending the SAQA "Two by Twenty" and International Threads' exhibition at the Biennale Internationale d'Art Textile. it runs for four days (Wednesday to Saturday, today is the last day), and it has long hours (9.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.). With very few visitors in the earliest hour and the last hour - it would be much more congenial to the vendors and exhibitors if the opening hours were a little shorter! I have done a blog post on the SAQA presence at the show, one on the International Threads blog, and a bit on my German blog, too. To be honest: I just don't feel like writing more about and uploading pictures to give an impression of the show.
It has high quality and I am impressed with the standard of exhibits, it's wonderful to be here. But I don't really like doing those 'all around impressions' posts of quilt shows. One never does complete justice to all the exhibitors, one can't communicate the atmosphere, and after having done three of them already, please forgive me if I don't indulge in this one here!

I did manage to get some stitching done on my new slow-stitch project, as the quieter hours provide time for that.

And I acquired a new little lamp which is so fabulous - folding, very light, with USB plug and normal plug, well-suited for traveling - that I think I will try to add that to my stock for when I go to market with my fabrics.

Apart from that I have refrained from shopping. Too much to carry anyway. And I do have enough knitting yarn, although I was very tempted to buy a silk-merino combination... but definitely no, even not today at last minute!

But as the audience is made up of almost only French people, my basic French is increasing rapidly. I can now produce the pretty much standard sentences explaining what SAQA is or how International Threads works in an almost fluent fashion. People are impressed with my ability to speak French - until they ask a question in their normal speed and I don't understand much at all. But I have learned one important new vocabulary item at the hotel on my second, where I was getting annoyed at having to get up for every single cup of tea at breakfast (and I drink a lot of tea) and went to the guy at the desk to ask for a tea pot. He managed to understand my gestures, and kindly provided the item itself, and the vocabulary item to go with it. Now I can cooly ask for 'une théière`' every morning, and it saves me a lot of getting up again. So this trip has definitely been an enrichment.
And my Spanish teacher is adamantly convinced that it won't completely upset or delete my attempts at mastering the basics of the Spanish language, to which I will return next week.
One more day now, and then all of International Threads' quilts will be packed back into the red suitcase. Which, I fear, is on its last journey as the extendable handle seems to have jammed and does not want to come out any more. It wouldn't be quite as bad if it were jammed in extended position. But it is not extended, unfortunately. Oh well. I'll get home somehow!

Monday, April 11, 2016

"Slow Stitch"

One of the first things I wrote about for my new job was a short book review of “Slow Stitch” by Claire Wellesley-Smith, which I had bought for myself a few months ago and really enjoyed.

While putting into written words what I had liked about the book I also found an idea for a stack of fabric swatches which I had been hoarding for several years. 

These are swatches for men’s suits which I had been given by a men’s tailor, wonderful woollen fabrics, each approximately 5 x 6 inches in size. They have been waiting in my shelf since I received them, and I had repeatedly tried to figure out how to best put them to use. They could have been turned into a blanket, and perhaps that would have done them justice well enough, but it would have meant to eliminate the gorgeous zigzag edges which all of them have on three of the four sides.
So besides packing the quilts I also started putting swatches to the background, arranging them, and tacking them to get rid of the pins. 

Haven't figured out yet what I am going to do about the zigzag sides and the one non-zigzag side on each of them, which is always on one of the short sides. Right now they're arranged so that not all of them are in the same orientation. Should I do some special stitching there? Or should I be lavish and invest into a pair of zigzag scissors?
Of course, being the kind of person I am, whose scrap quilt projects tend to be with very little pieces for rather large quilts, my current aim of doing a piece this large in ‘slow stitch mode’ is a bit on the ambitious side. 
And I still have to finally decide which threads I am actually going to use, although I have an idea already.

Don’t think I will be stitching this on the train, but there should be opportunity to do some stitching while attending the two exhibitions I will be with.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Next week I will be going to France for the Quilt Expo in Beaujolais and so I have begun getting things ready. I will be there with the International Threads exhibition that we first showed in Prague last year. But this time I won't have Kathy Loomis to carry half the exhibition, but some quilts aren't here with me. I won't be traveling lightly!

Only in terms of my personal items! And I will also be there as the SAQA regional representative, SAQA is showing the "Two by Twenty" exhibition, which I am really looking forward to.

I've signed a contract and am now a contributor to the German Patchwork Guild's magazine. This is going to an interesting experience, but writing comes easily, so it will be more of a challenge to find topics to write about than actually writing it up. All a matter of getting organized, I guess.
Yesterday I learned that the studio space I was going to move to with the longarm and that I had really been looking forward to is not going to be available after all. The current resident has realized that she is paying pitifully little for this space, and that any move into town is going to cost her so much more, so she is not moving out. And I can't move in. Which is quite a disappointment. I will have to keep listening to my husband's remarks about how the longarm makes our books and board games rather inaccessible. And it is really tightly fitted into that room - it would have been such a relief to be able to get to the back side of it without having to crawl under it. But perhaps something else will come up. Just it's going to be that much more expensive...