Thursday, July 18, 2024

A Towel, somewhat slanted

 I confess, when I wrote my last post, it was a little bit with a mind towards 'talking about it all may take the dynamics out of it and perhaps things will turn to the better'. Rest assured, so far it hasn't. New happenings on the parents' health front, and being in the midst of packing, sorting, clearing out... I wonder how I can cope with it all, and I do wonder, when things will get better!

In any case - to please my battered little soul I gave in to temptation. Anybody who has been reading this blog for a little while may have noticed that I have been struck with a bit of infatuation with Sarah C. Swett and her textile adventures, and am an avid reader and big fan of The Gusset on Substack

My Sweater Somewhat Slanted is still in the making.


A few weeks ago she posted about her handspun and handwoven towels and showed pictures that were so lightweight and enchanting that I felt very much of the "Oh, I would loooove to have one like that" kind of yearning. Of course, I haven't spun any linen yet, nor milkweed (but I do think hers were made from linen), nor do I have any weaving equipment left in the house. (And being in the middle of a move to a smaller place there is no possibility of acquiring anything in that direction any time soon.) I do have linen to spin, but it didn't make it to the top of my spinning projects list that is currently being worked on with the Tour de Fleece 2024.

But as I was rummaging through my yarn stash I came across a large bag of natural colored cotton which had been a sweater and was taken apart a while ago, and something gave me the immediate feeling that this is the closest I was going to get to a handmade towel anytime soon. Again using the self-delusory trick of telling myself that one slip stitch is not casting on, I started to knit a towel. Planning as I go, embracing mistakes, adjusting the separating number of stitches between the stitch patterns on the go when I have miscounted, I am slowly working on it.

Of course, it is nothing as airy as the woven ones by Sara, in fact, it looks a bit clumsy. It won't be exactly lightweight, first of all because it is cotton, and secondly because knitting does not result in as lightweight a product as weaving. Which may in fact lead to the experiment being reduced in size, although I am determined to make it more sizeable than a wash cloth. Not sure how outside factors may come into this decision making process. But in times when there is basically no free minute to sit down at the sewing machine it is fun to have something 'new' to pick up to keep my hands busy.

Monday, July 8, 2024

2024 Half-year evaluation


When I was young, I always thought life would become easier as one grows older. Less emotional excitement, slowing down regarding ambitions, cares and worries. Growing more and more content with what one has achieved, looking around in a stable and richly populated circle of friends that could be trusted and relied on. My grandparents always seemed to be content like that.

Now I am headed towards turning 60 next year and I am beginning to ask myself where in my many turns in life did I take the wrong one …? Because somehow this idealizing image of old age just doesn’t seem to be materializing me. (And I am not assuming I am just not old enough yet for it to happen.)

This year started off wonderfully, the new job in the new town to where I had been dreaming myself for many years, the lake… Then in mid-February things started going wrong with a sudden development I won’t talk about here unless it has been resolved completely. Add serious health issued with rather elderly parents on both sides, the need for relocation on one side (luckily resolved!), and actually on the other side as well (no insight yet, and no preparations made), my husband’s decision to change congregation in the fall which means we have to sort, diminish and pack up our household of 19 years, as my son is going off to university starting in September and I am moving into my own apartment in Ratzeburg – and now, unexpectedly, the news that the practice where I started work in January will not keep me after probationary period. The reasons given are rather vague and sketchy, they refer to minor aspects of work that could easily be fixed if I had been told and were given a chance, but I am not. (Nor was I being told about them in due time, only immediately before the last days of probationary period.) I figure there must something else that is the real reason and not being talked about. This is an experience I am finding a bit difficult to process, and which I certainly did not need at this particular point.

By now I think this year is a strong contender for being one of the worst years in my life, and it’s only half over …

But: my husband and I agreed that I will look for a new job in Ratzeburg, because that is where we want to live when he retires in five and a half years.  So I went back up north to find a new job. I get to keep enjoying the lake, and I will keep my new apartment. Fortunately, there are many jobs for nurses to be found, and even though I had not wanted to go back into hospital and working three shifts plus Sundays, this is what has happened. I have started work on a ward, I have another probationary period to fullfil - by the end of the year I will have worked the entire year ‘under probation’. It all has been a lot more upheaval and excitement than I appreciate, I must say. I do hope things are slowing down now.

Before I left home I worked on my piece for 20 Perspectives’ latest challenge, ‘Conversing with the Earth’, the reveal within the group has happened and you can find the individual descriptions of group pieces on the 20 Perspectives Blog. Not surprisingly, my piece is not quite finished. But I will get back to it when I return home and to my sewing machine at the end of this week.


And, as the berry bushes in our garden were getting ready, at least a part of them, I started my last berry season. As far as I know there isn’t much yet growing in the garden which comes with my husband’s new job, and since we are only going to be there for a few years before he retires, I am not certain yet how much time and money I am going to invest by planting new currant bushes. This is one of the two poignant parts of the prolonged good-bye we have entered into, the other being that I will definitely miss the outdoor pool.



Currently in Ratzeburg, as I don't have a decent sewing machine here nor any fabrics, I am spinning along with the Tour de Fleece 2024


and enjoying the lake whenever I get the chance.

 Living nearby the lake, with only a 3-minute-walk that takes me to a place where I can swim or SUP (and many other places to choose from) is indeed a dream come true. So the year cannot keep being as difficult as it has been lately.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024


 About 17 years ago, perhaps even a bit more, I had to take my son to the children's hospital in Landshut because of an irregularity in his heart beat, and for a while we thought he might have a problem because of a small hole in his cardiac septum. When a second inspection a few months later showed that everything was fine because the hole had closed up I was, of course, relieved tremendously. While waiting for procedures during these visits (and later, too, whenever we had to spend a Saturday afternoon in the emergency room of that hospital because he had dropped a heavy air pump on his toe which then had to be puntuated in the toe nail to relieve pressure, or stuff similar to that like lively boys do) I saw a small poster about a charity project by the former Medical Director of the hospital who had gone to live in Ruanda after he retired, performing surgeries on children that could not easily be obtained there and had set up a charity called "Kinderhilfe in Ruanda" to support children and their families. I was so relieved that I could take a healthy child home who did not need any surgery, and who had all the medical options and opportunities spread out before him that I started supporting that charity.

I donated all revenue from my one and only knit-along to them.

Picture from ravelry of one prototype of my
shoulder wrap that was the topic of the knit-along.


Whenever I am giving away a quilting book, utensils or fabric that I don't  need anymore and people ask me what they owe me for that I request they make a donation to that charity instead.

Dr. Jahn wrote a book about his story - he grew up in Eastern Germany, left the country in 1963, served as a doctor on a ship in Vietnam, and was the long-time medical director of that children's hospital in Landshut before going to Ruanda, which I read several years ago and which impressed me deeply. Not only was he performing surgeries, he also took in homeless children and made it possible for them to attend school and learn a trade.

I have never met Dr. Jahn personally, although I know that acquaintances of ours know him, and I was always thinking I would try and ask them whether we could arrange a meeting should they know if he was coming to Germany for a visit. I was shocked when I read in the paper a couple of years ago that he had been attacked and robbed - by a former protégée! He barely survived but then again continued practising medicine for children, and helping their families, heavily affected by post-Covid effects on food prices, or floodings. Sometimes he would send an email newsletter to keep supporters informed, sometimes a short notice would appear in the local paper.

Today I read in the paper that he passed away in Ruanda recently.

 I am sad about this. A completely self-less person, who put his entire being into the service of others, particularly children. But I was glad to read in the final paragraph that two adoptive sons are planning to continue his work in cooperation with the organization in Landshut. There will be opportunities again to ask for donations, and I wonder whether I should run the knit-along once more? I'm afraid I don't have time right now to concoct a new one, but as I gave away every single prototype I made, and the scarf I knitted while the knit-along as well I don't have one for myself, so it would be a good way to get myself a scarf for myself, after all these years.

I have written about the Christmas postcards Dr. Alfred Jahn used to send and am wondering whether his adoptive sons mentioned in the article will send one this year, too. Or whether I won't receive another letter with stamps from Ruanda again. It used to be one highlight during the pre-Christmas season to see the beautiful card inside... May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

75th Anniversary


Photo of the front page article from the daily
newspaper "Die Welt" from May 23, 2024

Last Thursday, May 23rd, marked the 75th anniversary of Germany’s ‘Grundgesetz’, which translates as ‘Basic Law’ (you can find the English translation here) and is Germany’s constitution. Its name derives from the fact that it was passed by a legislative convention that included members from only three of the then occupied sections of Germany, the American Sector, the British Sector, and the French Sector. Representatives from the Russian Sector were not included as the Cold War was already in its beginning stages, a unified Germany was not in the interest of the Russian occupiers. The convention declared a continued interest in aiming for a unified Germany, therefore this linguistic specification.

The document included paragraphs that left open the option for the other parts of Germany to join the union, two different possibly ways to achieve reunification were outlined, and the Federal Republic of Germany with a clear West-orientation was on its way.

The Russian Sector passed a separate constitution a few months later, leading to a de facto separation of the two German states that would last forty years, until just a few months respectively weeks after the celebrations of the 40th anniversaries of the two different documents, when dissatisfaction, demonstrations in the Eastern part of Germany and the dissolution of the Soviet Empire led to the opening of borders in November 1989 and political reunification in October 1990.

The Grundgesetz aimed to improve on deficiencies of the constitution of the Weimar Republic, learn from other democratic countries and their experiences and was worded explicitly to make it impossible to have developments such as the destabilisation of democracy as had happened during the Weimar years that then led to the dictatorship of Hitler and his Nazi regime.

We were taught to be proud about the Grundgesetz, and although I have always had an emotional difficulty with calling myself (and being) German because of the historic load that comes with it, I have indeed always been patriotic about the intentions expressed in that document. I must not be the only one with this condition as there exists a special term for this feeling, "Verfassungspatriotismus", i.e. patriotism for the constitution. As a political constitution I think it is really pretty darn good. Even if there are flaws in its execution in some areas, and I do not agree with some of the changes that were made in later years. (A two-thirds majority is needed in both chambers of parliament to enable a change in the wording, and there are a few articles that are not open to attempts at alteration.)

I made a quilt that runs the text of the first (unalterable) article, “Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar” (‘Human dignity is untouchable’). 


Part of the text messages series: Article 1

It was part of the SAQA Europe-Middle East exhibition “Made in Europe” a few years ago, and on display at FoQ, and it sold recently. So it got out there, and it’s maybe having some impact now.

These words were also one of the driving motivations behind my long and intensive involvement with refugees, which is still ongoing on a smaller level, even though I don’t talk about it much anymore. (I might, once the current bout of uncertainty is over, but only, if it turns into success.)

Likewise, my love and appreciation for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is grounded on these words, as they were drawn in part from that document. UDHR has been influential in several of my quilts, the words appear as the quilting and title of “Everyone has the Right” and “#UDHR” from a few years ago.

My strong feelings about justice, equality and human rights has made it rather difficult to live with a peaceful mind in the last years as more and more wars are erupting in so many different areas of the world, social justice seems to be eroding in developed countries and the countries that developed countries have been exploiting, climate and plastic crisis is increasing and so on and so on. I don’t know how to deal with all of this. And I don’t know whether making a quilt about that will help. So perhaps there won’t be any more ‘political’ quilts of mine? Who knows. I have no clue whether it makes sense to make quilts expressing a political opinion, what do you think?

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Taking a risk, and it was worth it - so far.

When I decided to enter two quilts into Wide Horizons which had its call open in March I was arguing to myself that it was giving the quilts a doubled chance of being accepted. One, “Seeing Red”, was also registered for the competion in Brno (Cz), and the jurying was scheduled to be done before the exhibition opened in Brno. Nor is there a statement that prohibits quilts from being entered in Wide Horizons which have been shown before. The second quilt I entered was the intended entry for EPMs contest “Ocean”.

My busy life being what it has been in the past few months, however, led to the fact that the Ocean-candidate could still use a bit more adding on when the deadline for Wide Horizons rolled in. I took my own photo – which I usually don’t do, I always take my quilts to be professionally photographed – and figured we would be notified in time that I could add a bit of stitching for an entry in Ocean should it not be chosen for Wide Horizons. Because there is a statement in the rules that the quilt must not be altered after a picture has been entered for competition.

Earlier this week, however, we still had not heard from Wide Horizons, and today was the final day for entering for Ocean. And I did want to get a professional photograph this time… I could have managed that, as I am a regular customer with the photographer, I think I would have been able to talk him into processing the photo so quickly that I could have had the picture taken yesterday and receive the fully edited file today. But no notice, and I found out that we would only be notified today. Too late to wait for confirmation about which, if any, of my two entries would be accepted… So I decided to take the risk, as I really wanted the Ocean-candidate to get a bit more stitching. 


I added some more quilting, a few more embellishments, and figured it was worth the risk to maybe have to pull back should it be chosen, or just ask whether I could send in the final version, even if it did not match with the picture entirely. Stitching took place yesterday, but that definitely did not leave enough time for having it photographed professionally. I took photos this morning, hoping that they turned out ‘ok enough’ so it would not be dismissed for reason of insufficient photography.

Got in my entry with EPMbefore midday – couldn’t wait around all day, because there were so many things that needed to be done I just did not want to put it off. And well I did, because it took quite some time to get the application finished, they made me fill in all the relevant information several times. (I am not too plussed with their website: the German translation is rather faulty, I did not check the English version, but finally returned to doing it all in French because I figured I would understand well enough.)

In the afternoon the message arrived… and I was happy to read that Seeing Red had been accepted. 


Detail photos of "Seeing Red"

I had hoped that this one would be the one chosen, but you never know. No need to withdraw the Ocean entry. But again there I entered with a non-professional photo…

In any case, “Seeing Red” has been chosen for Wide Horizons and will be shown at EPM in September. I need to wait a few weeks to find out whether a second large quilt of mine will be shown. But definitely a small one will be as well, as I have started on the binding of my bird quilt for the EQA challenge.

More life is happening right now and I am on the train to visit my father in hospital, I fear there may not be as much time for creativity within the next few days as I had hoped to have in my two weeks off work. I brought some knitting, though, to calm my nerves, and am allowing me to cast on a new piece. In yellow.


It is an idiosyncratic combination of a knitting pattern I saw and Sarah C Swett's method of  increasing at the beginning of a row. I love what I am seeing and getting - but right now it is a complete pain in the neck to be knitting the pattern because I only brought knitting needles with a rather roundish tip and it is proving rather difficult to get into a swing or flow with the knitting. I am steadfastly resisting the consumerist urge that says 'go get new neeldes!' because I do have well-pointed ones at home and don't quite know why I did not bring those. But they are there and I will wait until I get back home. Until then I can just knit a bit more slowly and meditatively, I do not need to buy any knitting needles.