Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

In Limbo - and the result

A good friend of mine sent me a message yesterday asking whether I had fallen off the edge of the world because she hadn't heard from me for so long. No, I not the edge of the world, but off a cliff probably. Still hanging in there, in limbo, waiting for news regarding the work permit for a third of my class. And so much depends on it, not only these eight people's lives, but some decisions of mine as well. If they are denied the work permit, I have decided that I will not continue with the job next year. But as long as I don't know, I can't start looking for something else. And if something else - what exactly will I be looking for? My former qualifications don't fit many jobs in this area, yet I know for sure I don't want to return to being the quilter in the family without my own income from some kind of regular work. One option I have is one that I had consciously decided against twice or three times before, and it is not much more attractive now than it was then. Other options need to be searched... And although I am not a very optimistic person and in limbo is hard to endure, there is still the very unlikely possibility that some wonder will happen, the work permits will be granted, everything will be ok... Am I dreaming?
This whole thing has turned into a small quilt, however. A sketch for something larger, perhaps, but this one right now is 14"x 10". It originated from a visit to the thermal baths with my husband early April, when I was forced to look at all those huge and very fleshy Bavarian naked bodies lying and walking around. Absolutely no diversity there, everything white, lots of male parts, and, unfortunately, mostly not very attractive. (One good thing - I felt very slim after those days, and beautiful!) But as I was in the thermal environment and pondering the lack of diversity, and the ugliness of the German flesh I had a flash vision. My students from Senegal - who are, of course, always properly dressed when they appear in class, are avid in fitness and training methods, and under their T-Shirts quite a bit of muscle bulges. So I imagined how it would be to march these six well-built and mostly very black guys through these masses of German flesh. Modestly clad with a towel around their waist I would have wanted to just walk them silently, in formation like a flock of geese, through the premises. Once would be enough. On second thoughts I added the one woman as the 'tail-end' - she would have been properly clad in some kind of fabric covering the 'indecent' parts.
That was what I then kept thinking about as my 'Dream Formation'. It kept reappearing, and now as I was waiting, it took shape.

I copied a piece of continental and national outlines from my son's wall map that is hanging in our kitchen onto a piece of dissolvable plastic.

 Then I stitched over the outlines of the countries in the north of Africa and most of Europe.

After quilting the continental outlines on batting and backfabric I then hand stitched into the 'water'-areas of the entire piece.

 Did a bit of positioning of the 'geese' and opted for the version that has a slightly less structured appearance, as they did not really travel in one flock.

As you can see on this detail shot: each triangle is initialized - the first letters of the first names of the students who are being kept in limbo...

And here it is in full, the little one: African Migrant Birds Dream Formation.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

German Patchwork Guild's AGM in Fürth

Every German child knows the name of the city Fürth as one part in the implementation of the railway system in Germany: the first train ran between Nürnberg andFürth in 1835, which is being taught in school as the date of the beginning of industrialization in Germany. Certainly a good date for the railway system, because, as everybody in the world knows, German trains are sooooo efficient. Whether the process of Germany’s industrialization was always for the good is another question and need not be discussed here. And, of course, there probably wouldn’t be an efficient railway system without the entire process of industrialization… Anyway - I had never been in Fürth before, and now the German Guild’s  AGM has brought me here.

Wednesday I spent all day trying to hang the EQA-exhibition, with a steep learning curve. Especially in the sense of ‘this must be done differently next year’. 

My right index finger is completely shredded from tying the nylon cords that connects these rows of small quilts. Next year I will have come up with a different way of doing it, and certainly much faster!

I am splitting my time between my duties for the Guild, and my own stand, which is partly being covered by members of the Herzogenaurach Quilting Bee group, where I taught a class last year, and who all live close by.

This is the first time I have had samples of blocks from The 70,273 project up on the stand. Not only have some people asked me about it and are planning to contribute, but others have already stopped by and delivered blocks they had made in reaction to the article in the Guild’s magazine I wrote for the April issue. 

Next year, June 2-5 in Celle, there will be a display of quilts from the project. I am especially pleased that the quilts group from Dachau are planning to commemorate the over 200 people who were taken from an institution in the area of Dachau, thank you to Annemarie Pattis and the group. But it is also moving to see people’s reactions when I am explaining the intention of the project. And already I have received blocks from a woman near Stuttgart who works in an institution with handicapped people, and is now planning to check whether she can find out more about the numbers.

But I also very much appreciated that one woman came up to me and talked to me about my involvement with the refugees. She said in her mind she had already written me a thousand letters of encouragement and support, and that was a wonderful thing to hear. Sometimes I wonder whether these are things I should write about on the blog, after all this was begun as a blog about my quilting and art. But these people are here, they are an important part of my life, and the way they are being treated by German authorities is also a part of the reality in the Germany I live in. I can’t keep silent about it, even though I sometimes feel very much alone. I know my opinion is not the majority’s opinion. Having a dissenting opinion in silence is easy, but won’t change anything. Speaking up is important, I think, and I will continue to do so, even though this is supposed to remain a mostly quilt-oriented blog. And I have heard about a demonstration in two weeks’ time where all volunteer helpers are supposed to get together in Munich. Of course I will go - I have never been part of a demonstration in all my life - and perhaps after that I won’t feel so alone about it all anymore.

But right now I am still in Fürth and haven’t even had a chance to look at the other exhibitions besides the one I put up. 

So after breakfast I will take advantage of the fact that I get early entrance into the hall and take a good look around. After all, I have six or seven different quilts hanging here, I am well represented.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

reflections from May

I haven't posted many lately - but I am still taking pictures of reflections. This is a selection from May.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I hate brand name tags...

I hate brand name tags in clothing. They give me problems because they are scratchy and unpleasant. When I had ruined the new T-Shirt the other day and then peppedit up with a few sew-on-sew-off squares,  I thought I would be done with this topic for a little while at least. But I bought a new summer dress last week, and that, too, had tags in a very uncomfortable location.

And although I was particularly careful this time, the tag was so severely attached to the inner lining that despite my ability with the thread picker I could not remove it without again doing damage. 

That made me really mad. It’s on the inside, and I haven’t bothered to fix it - but am thinking about how to go about. Iron on something from the back of the inner layer, then lightly stitch around it, but it must not be too noticeable, because otherwise I might just as well have left the original tag there.What's the use of attaching these stupid tags - on the inside to begin with, so severely that they cannot be removed without doing damage - wouldn't it make much more sense to give the poor people who have to sew these in some Far East factory a good job...?

We still haven’t heard from District administration about the work permits for the students from Senegal… having to wait is getting unbearable. And although summer is here, the sun is shining, teaching is fun and rewarding, and I see how impressively their improvements in language skills are showing, my mood is a bit on the down side. Germany’s performance with deportations is appalling, our treatment of people as unwanted aliens is unworthy of a nation that once prided itself on being ‘a nation of thinkers and poets’. More and more am I feeling ashamed about being German.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

trying to boost creativity

This week should have been the week of official decision with regard to the Senegalese members of the class I am teaching in, but we haven't heard anything yet. Tomorrow is a bank holiday, no classes nor mail, so the waiting continues until at least Friday. I am not an optimist by birth, and it is getting harder and harder to bear the tension!
In this situation I have actually mailed my SAQA Benefit Auction donation, although the first attempt at registering my contribution floundered. Filling in an 'x' in the 'State'-slot of the entry form did the trick, which I found out through the helpful comment of Jen Solon at SAQA. Thank you, Jen.  I entered my quilt in "Made in Europe II" and really liked the size requirement. I was a part in setting the size, as it was decided on when I was still a co-rep, but I had never made a quilt in exactly that size before, it was mostly chosen for transportability. So after entering the professional photo I am actually putting on the sleeve today as I understand notification of acceptance might mean having to send it the next day.

As I am waiting for the verdict it feels a bit like my creativity has dried up. Gone are the times when I was bursting with ideas that were asking to be turned into a quilt. Perhaps it is also a matter of having enough time and leisure to sit down and let thoughts flow and threads and fabrics get together... but it is getting a bit tedious right now.
I am keeping my hand occupied by knitting a scarf (that was originally begun as a jacket, as I wrote about on my German blog here). Another little burst of creativity happened when I managed to (almost) ruin a newly bought T-Shirt: I have a strong adversion against any kind of tags inside the shirts, but when I removed them from this one, I wasn't careful enough and slightly nipped into the jersey. As I said, the T-Shirt is new, and I did not want to throw it out right away. So I sewed one of the many many sew-on-sew-off squares over the little hole on the side to cover it up. One of my students saw that and suggested that I add some more in other places, and I did (so to be honest: this burst of creativity wasn't even my own idea...).

I have worn it like this today and nobody said anything. So it doesn't seem to be so outrageous as I first thought it might be. But I quite like the look. Might be an idea how to pep up pieces of clothing that have grown boring. Or attracted some spots, as in bing worn when dyeing...
Yes, dyeing - I am in the midst of dyeing May's collection, much more on time than I had been for several months.
The next days will hopefully bring the end of waiting...

Monday, May 15, 2017

ooops - Benefit Auction Time!

We had a very warm stretch in early April, which resulted in all the trees getting ready to bloom about three weeks early. Then frost came, a lot of the buds froze, and now we are actually having the kind of weather that is typically called ‘April weather’. In May, when it should be warmer, more springy - in any case, I must have somewhere lost track of time. Yesterday I remembered, hey- it’s May, wasn’t there usually something going on with Benefit Auction for SAQA? During the last years I would be busy at this time of year already, trying to scan the growing list of donated quilts on SAQA's website to have an overview about how many had been donated from Europe/MIddle East, so I could post them in the countdown on the blog just before the auction started. 
For several years I have myself donated a piece, they all sold, and I didn’t mean to let this row break. But until yesterday I had not given a single thought to that topic. Or laid a conscious hand onto the quilt. Missed the Early Bird deadline, for sure, it had passed me by completely.

So as I was ironing yesterday, trying out little things and color combinations, my eyes fell onto three smaller quilts that were lying in the shelf opposite my ironing board. Right size they would have been. But neither of them represents me in the stage I am in right now, nor do I find them convincing. (Yes, the inner critic is a very strong presence once a quilt is finished …) But time is short - the quilt must have been received by June 1st, that means it must go into the post QUICKLY!

I have been working on something which should have been a quilt for an International Threads challenge, ‘hand stitched’. It was supposed to have been called ‘Waste No Thread’, and in it I was using up all cut-off threads of my recent pieces, longarm custom quilting, longarm my quilting, two pieces from the ‘text messages’ series that I finished recently (yes, I have been able to finish things, although there is a certain lack of ideas as to what to start on now). For the International Threads challenge it would still have taken a lot of work. For a 12" x 12", however... it was almost done!

So I set about using up the remaining pieces of thread I had assembled, almost finished that yesterday. The last pieces were added this morning as I was listening to the radio, and then I also managed to do the facing and tunnel right away. 

Now all it needs is a sign with the title - haven't decided on that one yet. Should it stay "Waste No Thread!", or should it be "Play of Lines XXXX: Crossing the Red Line"? I will sleep on that for a night.