Sunday, May 8, 2022

Lots going on that is not necessarily quilting...

I had to pick up my oleander pots from the gardener where they had spent the winter in late March, and they had to face the temperatures on the terrace. I admit, I did not understand they were delicate towards what we have been experiencing in terms of weather because during the past years it has never been a problem. But this time around, as we are having a rather dry spell with temperatures that are probably much closer to ‘adequate according to long-term average’ than they were during the recent years, so leaving them out on the terrace uncovered during the night was not a good idea at all. Last year I could come up with a gorgeous photo of a ‘tomato oleander’ in its full glory (alas it has been lost to photo clean up on the phone),but at the moment the leaves look rather sad.


I will cut them back even further and hope they will recover when it gets warmer. They have been banned from the terrace by my husband, now they are waiting for warmer days just outside the garden door, and when they resprout I will argue for their return to the terrace.

It’s been a week full of events and decisions. (Not exactly how I had planned to spend my first week of vacation.) One of these decisions was the signing of a leasing contract for a brand-new car which I will need soon to accomodate the new situation. I never believed I would ever be the owner of a new car, in fact, I had sort of decided that I wasn’t going to be relying on a car for work commute in my remaining work life. But we live in an area where public transport is virtually non-existant, and certainly nothing to be dealt with in the direction I will be heading for work starting July 1st. So we did a quick search, one test drive, a calculation, and signed the contract. Of course, it being a lease arrangement, strictly speaking I will not be the owner of the car, unless we buy it off the dealer in four years. I feel much better now (not primarily because of the car) and more at ease, so I suppose it was the right thing to do, although the coming weeks might be a bit of a challenge still, to bring it all to a civilized ending. And then something new will begin.

I finished a sort-of-red sweater, which was knit on rather thicker needles than I had been knitting on for a long time. 


A history of tendonitis in my lower right arm had kept me from going above 4mm needles ever since I started back to knitting, and I have always been careful not to overdo it, in order to stay on the safe side. But I wanted to try this three-strand combination, and it required 6mm needles. This sweater was started only a few weeks earlier this year, and as it was so much fun to knit, I actually got very close to overdoing it at some point. So I scaled back in amount of time I would spend knitting in general, and this sweater in particular. But it’s finished now. I used up every little bit of this salmon colored silk lace yarn I still had in my stash, 


and almost everything of a handspun sari-silk-thread that had severely discolored when I washed it after taking it off the bobbin. Which was actually the reason why I combined it with the red baby alpaca and the silk lace yarn, as the brownish result of the discoloring had left me rather frustrated.

This is a swatch for another knitting pattern which I received as a
present last week, made from that same sari-silk thread, just to get the hang of the pattern.

And this week was a first time for me, ordering a piece of fabric printed with my own photo. This is going to be my next contribution to the 20perspectives challenge, and because the deadline is looming I can’t really change my mind. I like the photo, but am not very happy with the fabric, I had imagined something different. 


I will do my best with as it is, but if it were not for the pressure of time I would try to find a different solution. Curious to see how this behaves when being quilted, and how it will turn out.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Life in April '22

I am in a process of decisionmaking that hasn’t been completed yet but takes a lot of time and energy. (Perhaps that's what behind my procrastination tactics I wrote about in my last post.) So it may be good to get back to being creative and sorting my plans and projects in that area to take my mind off the other stuff and let that sort itself a bit under the radar.

When you work in hospital you have to leave any kind of green-minded heart outside the front door. This holds true for working on a standard ward, but even more so when working in the operating room. The amount of packaging waste that is produced every day is unbelievable. I have seen a colleague save the blue wrapping from inside the containers for medical instruments for her house decoration projects, and sort of got into the habit of keeping them back for her. Now she has declared she doesn’t need them anymore really and every time I open one of those containers I find myself faced with one of those sheets. 


As you can see, I have kept a few of them for myself and want to try out how well they are suited for storing quilts in, but it won’t be long before all of the quilts I have that are currently unprotected will be covered in blue. Then I will most likely stop saving the blue wrappers. I suppose they could be used to make reusable bags, but I am not a person who loves making bags – or if I make a bag, it must be from fabric and last, this material will not last as long as fabric. So that’s not my kind of thing.

Then I start thinking about all the hospitals in the world, and the amount of waste they produce in the service of health, and I realize that my saving those sheets from landfill is really not going to make a difference in that global context. And if I don’t know what to do with them?

The same containers are sealed after sterilization with red clips, which need to be undamaged before we start preparations for an operation. If not, the container is not properly sterile, and will be sent back for sterilization. Sometimes I keep these opened red clips. 


Not all of the ones I handle, I would already be swamped if I did that. But the collection is growing, and I am considering how to include them in my intended piece for SAQA’s call for entry for RED.

Which I better get started on soon, or else I will be in dire straits about a deadline again.  And there are two more pressing-deadline-pieces on my worktable as well, these need to be done first.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Queen of Procrastination

 Life has been busy. A lot. Infringing on creative impulses. Stuff like ageing parents, an injured son (ankle - no basketball playing right now, my husband is doing a lot of driving him around, which I can't do due to work schedule), continued challenging situations in getting included in the team at work (while I think I am slowly finding my bearings). I won't go into detail on any of these. But when I come home from work it is difficult to sit down and sew, usually I can only sit down and knit. Which I have been doing a bit. 

Currently I am working on a sweater from one strand of handspun silk, combined with a strand of baby alpaca and some other silk.

Excuse the lack of smile, I am not good at all at taking selfies...

It's been cold, which has definitely been a hindrance to the garden, although the rhubarb is peeking out. The first cake of the season (yesterday) was, however, made from store bought.

We did go to sort of celebrate a belated 20th wedding anniversary by having a meal at the restaurant where we ate after the civil ceremony way back then, at the Hotel Grauer Bär in Kochel. The weather was less agreeable than on the day, and it wasn't really meant as a celebration, but it was as delicious as then. And the view just as good, even without sunshine. (I was stunned that two people on the personnel were there who had already been there more than 20 years ago.)

And I took part in a private spinning 'class' on controlled spinning of various thickness of yarn, which helped me unterstand my spinning wheel much better than before. Looking forward to results, this picture is only a sample from the afternoon, I don't have any of the orange.

Hope that things slow down, cheer up a bit, spring takes over, whatever, to get my creative juices going again.

Sunday, February 27, 2022


 The national German Patchwork Guild has always been issuing annual challenges for members. During the first lockdown one of our web editors started a sew along project called 'stars of hope' and  published a star pattern every day for three weeks. The results of this are going to be presented in our next, upcoming exhibition in Meiningen (May 27 - 29), and during the recent workshop at Petersberg I persuaded 'my' graduated patchwork kid (she is turning 20 in May, not a kid anymore) to finish hers in time to send to Meiningen as well.

Basting on the floor, although we had a large table set up to avoid this...

Currently, a sew-along is on that is called "the online quilter". You can see photos of first completed blocks here. The blocks are all related to digital stuff that a quilter might need - self-drafted by our web editors, and published in a two-fold manner: each block is completely open for a week, and then for members in the members' area without limitation. I have contributed a few photos to the instructions, noting how I take the steps, but Barbara Lange did the write-up, as that is definitely not my strong point. But I am happy that I could contribute at least a bit to the entire project, even though I am not sewing an online quilter quilt for myself.

I did join the challenge of the Guild, when I found out that a few of the fabric kits were still available a few days after they had gone online. This is a challenge that was planned as a support for guldusi, the embroidery project by the Afghan German Initiative, which I have written about before. The plan was drawn up early last year, and published in the fall issue - after the situation in Afghanistan had changed dramatically and when the possibilities and options for the initiative were completely unclear. The original plan had been to support the project, as one requirement of the challenge was to  include a piece of guldusi embroidery in the quilt that was based on the fabric/thread kit received by each participant. Because I have a number of embroideries from Afghan women in my stash I decided I would include a few of them in this piece, and instead of buying new ones I will make a monetary contribution when I am finished. After all, I did support the initiative when I bought these pieces I already own. 

The topic of the challenge is 'pathways'. I had once bought a piece that shows a soccer situation - for my son, when he was still playing soccer. (He has since become an avid basketballer.) A famous quote from one of the legendary national soccer coaches translates as "the round thing must go into the cornered thing", and I figured that is a description of a pathway, so the original German quote is the title. I am including a few more embroidered pieces, three round and two square ones, the kit fabric,

and a piece of embroidery (signed!) by my then probably 7 or 8 year old son, when he was still playing soccer, and which I have kept since he made it.

Right now I am debating whether I should attach these silk cases.

And of course, while I am stitching, there are the terrible news about Ukraine. Yet another war situation that leaves you speechless and heartbroken. I don't think posting blue and yellow pictures on social media is a good way to show compassion or support. However, these arranged blocks I have found on my table in a way symbolize the broken feeling that is overwhelming right now.


The entire situation and how it came up  'reminds' me of something similar - although I was not there in 1938. How could the politicians not see this coming? How could they not understand that the most extreme measures were necessary instead of this economical-thinking-driven appeasement of a guy who has repeatedly shown that he will go to the extreme? How could Germany be such a hesitator in negotiations? I am ahsamed at the 'offer of help' of 5,000 helmets which the Ukrainians were then supposed to come and pick up in Poland. What a sad sad joke. At least the chancellor has changed line of action now, but isn't it way too late? I am completely at loss right now.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022


As I mentioned in my last post, interesting developments have been taking place. It all started in July when I joined one of the bi-weekly zoom meetings for the SAQA Europe/Middle East region in which Susan Callahan said she wanted to start an international group. I considered for a while, then decided I was going to give it a try. The first online meetings posed some difficulties because zoom links were not correct, I was on vacation with weak internet connection, whatever. I had even written a few sentences already in which I said I would withdraw, but on the spur of the moment gave it all one more try. Then, finally, it worked, and the group has taken on momentum since.

At first I thought I would not be able to do a whole lot in terms of the administrative things required, but then it was I who started the WhatsApp group. (That’s easy, and not a whole lot of work.) We started discussing about frequency of challenges, size of pieces to be submitted, and when would we start. Suddenly we (that is, Paula Rafferty) were developing a website and writing blog posts to introduce ourselves. And then somebody suggested ‘let’s just do the first challenge with reveal day by the end of January’. The topic chosen was ‘bridges’, and I have described on the 20Perspectives blog how the piece took on a life of its own until it looked like it does now. 

Bridging the Cultural Gap (text messages??)
Uta Lenk, 2022

We are trying to establish and improve a presence on social media. We have more topics coming up. But we also have a first chance at exhibition with the Bridges collection because of a coincidence. For this exhibition all members have made one piece each, but we are also preparing a joint piece: every (participating) member is working on one of fifteen slices of this picture of Pont Neuf in Paris, which I took in September. Probably one of the more frequently photographed bridges in the world, but splitting the picture up into fifteen pieces is going to give a rather different outlook onto this famous piece of architecture.


I have only started to pick out fabrics for my slice of the bridge, and will hopefully get to work on it a bit on the weekend. It has certainly been a creative booster. I am really glad I did not send that mail that would have set an end to all of this before it started.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Developments in the background


My son and I spent a few nice days in Cologne at the beginning of the month. We went to the chocolate museum


the sports museum


My son found his Olympic grandfather and is taking a picture as proof.

and one day we took the train to Bonn to go and see the Museum of History of the Federal Republic of Germany. This museum is free of entry charge, and it is so filled with interesting information that it is well worth going there more often. 


One of the very famous pictures in connection with the
building of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Of course, that is not easily possible for us, living over 500 km away, but anybody who happens to be near should take the opportunity!

I was surprised to learn that my son claimed he had never heard of the famous Cologne Water:

Even more surprised, when he claimed he thought it smells pretty good...

 I took him into the Cathedral where we listened to a short organ recital and prayer, sitting opposite the famous glass window by Gerhard Richter.

And I went and visited Ernst Barlach's Soaring Angel, couldn't leave the city without that.

Then life turned very busy, as work became more intense again. Our hospital went back to full schedule in the operations room and thus I am not in danger anymore of being sent around to other wards ‘helping out’. Which means my period of vocational adjustment finally turned serious indeed. There are days when I am optimistic I will make it, and others when I think I will never be able to fit everything into my brain, differentiate between the various systems of implants for hips, knees, or get the whole procedure memorized... Today is one of the latter, but Friday was one of the former.

Pedestrians in front of the Messe station just before we returned home from Cologne.


Meanwhile, some things have been happening in the background. It started in the summer, when Susan Callaghan gave a talk at one of the online meetings of the regional SAQA zoom meeting for SAQA Europe/Middle East. After finishing the talk she mentioned she was planning to start an international quilt group, would people be interested to join, get in touch with her... Initial difficulties with zoom links almost discouraged me completely, I had even started writing a mail in which I said I was not going to join the group after all, but something made me change my mind, and am I glad I did. The group has taken off with the speed of lightning, and today is our first reveal date, within the group, but we are going public in a few days. Here is a detail shot of my first piece.

"Bridging the Cultural Gap" (text messages???), detail. 40 x 43 cm, 2022.

 More about this in a few days!

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Happy New Year!

For the second year in a row the shops were not allowed to sell fireworks prior to New Year’s Eve. There was only very little firework going off at midnight on the 31st. (I kind of like it –less air pollution, less dirt on the streets next morning... Why can’t we have controlled fireworks staged on that occasion without everybody just blasting about?) What will the world be like next year?

Just one year ago we were excited about the newly admitted vaccine – who would have thought that Germany would be carrying the red lantern in Europe in terms of vaccination by this time? So many extensions of lockdown that we endured earlier during the year should have taught them something, I would have assumed – but obviously people have not seen enough ‘effects’ of the virus actually taking its toll in terms of illness, and victims, to understand.  I always think people who refuse to get vaccinated should spend a week working on ICU, nursing somebody who is infected with the virus. Would it teach them something? (Perhaps not – even a friend from the course, who has done duty on ICU ward, is not getting vaccinated...) Anyway – that year is over, and here’s to a Happy and New one:


I managed to go exercising pretty regularly
the past few days, and took the time to
put this new date number together yesterday, practising ...

We were fortunate to have several days of sunshine in a row. Too warm for the time of year, but after seemingly endless weeks of dull and grey I could not but enjoy the sunshine. I went out with my walking sticks several days in a row, and it has done me very good to be out in the sunshine. 

This is the view ofour garden, and even that is cheering me up.

Lovely light conditions in the forest.

Interesting details to be seen along the way.

I have also done some sewing, some knitting – and today I sat down seriously with the intention to continue on the piece on the topic of ‘bridge’ that I have mentioned briefly before. Still not going into too much detail telling about it – but I decided on putting text on it, I assembled a few relevant terms, and started stitching. As with the purple monster I have again faced the difficulty of transferring the text onto the fabric if I don’t want to use dissolvable stuff that needs to be put into warm or even hot water. This time I used a different kind of transparent paper, which was very satisfying to sew the outlines of the lettering, as it is a bit more sturdy than what I used last time.


However, it has the same negative effect of having to be peeled off. 


One (though admittedly, not the only one) reason why I don’t like to do any kind of foundation paper piecing is the necessity to remove the paper from below. Why on earth do I inflict on myself the necessity to remove the paper from the top? I may have to do some research as to other methods, or have to resort to completely improvisational writing, or work with templates again?

Yesterday I would have left to go cross country skiing with my son, had he not contracted a knee injury which prevents him from doing any kind of exercise. We are going to Cologne tomorrow instead. Not that this was on any position of the list of places I desperately want to go to, but he got to choose, and off we go.