Sunday, May 9, 2021

zoom effects

 During the past year I have had a number of rather varied experiences with zoom/digital meetings. Yes, I know, they have been very helpful in keeping us all somewhat connected, and I would not want to talk against that. Last week Saturday I was having a very moody and weepy kind of day until I saw Pam's email 'join ongoing zoom meeting', clicked, and was connected with the group in Tennessee/Texas whom I had joined for their zoom sewing before thanks to my friend Debbie who invited me to join them, they have been doing it for almost every week since the pandemic started. This past Saturday a week ago it was a real help for me. Got me out of the slump, I sat down at the machine to get some stitching done, I felt a lot better afterwards.


The day before that I had treated myself to a huge (in fact, too huge) pot of ice cream from the new ice cream place in town after I finished my turn on ICU.

The good stuff is hidden under the cream, but
I think a treat ice cream has to have cream, too.

Those were some intensive weeks. Didn't leave me with a lot of strength for sewing. All I could do is some spinning and plying. So perhaps the weepyness on that Saturday was still due to that episode. 

On the other hand, zoom interactions don't have the quality of real interactions - and, to be honest, seeing people on that screen, usually from some unflattering angle and not well lit is not an improvement over a phone call, so in interactions with only one other person I would still always prefer a normal phone conversation. But I suppose these are growing completely old-fashioned now.

During our last sessions in school we have been treated to a separation of the class, one half is in one room, one in the next room, the teacher is transmitted from one room to the other by zoom, with a mask, with very little possibility for the removed half of the class to interact because of only one microphone. There it would make a lot more sense to have a real zoom meeting, let everybody stay at home, and then the benefits of online setups would or could apply. But like this - it is completely frustrating.

So - what is happening? Not much. I am trying to study for my upcoming exams at a desk which was not intended to be the site of this. And which suffers heavily from my inability to maintain order.

Written and oral exams will take place in the end of July. Things should look better by then.

But I do hope to be able to put in a few sewing hours before that, too, to finish some of the little stuff that I started. Meanwhile, my creativity goes into baking. Rhubarb pie. With a new trick to make it look so yellow...

And it was VERY good.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

April 2021

 These past few weeks I have been working on ICU, with Covid patients, and a few others thown in, and it has been a challenging time. I was glad to have a three-times-a-week distraction as I was working myselft through a whole series of design options, possibilities, ideas for the #gildemodernburgoyne that is based on the Burgoyne Surrounded block. It has been an enlightening activity as I kept stumbling over new combinations, focus points etc.

 As I was preparing a short report on this (as ov yet still ongoing project) last week I asked the board members of the Guild which were their personal favorite designs. That was reason for yet another surprise. Because of the 20-something participants in the vote, very few chose the 'same' as a favorite. The array of one-vote-designs was very large (a number of people gave three or more votes), the number of quilts that got more than two votes very low, and so instead of chosing a three-piece-set of favorites for publication in the Guild's magazine I had a five-piece set. All of the five below got two or three votes.

 Interestingly, my personal favourites were not among them...

These are - so far, two more days to go! - 

This is an "oops" from the one above, but I find it very interesting.


Amongst many others - don't get me wrong, I do like the board members' selection a lot, too!

Apart from that, I have started to study for my exams (coming up in July), done some spinning.

And started stitching on my contribution to SAQA Europe/MiddleEast's project "Orient Express".

It has been a rather cool April, and it was only the other day that we saw the first butterflies.

I tried my inexpert hand at cutting back the apple tree (which probably will make people who have more knowledge in this than I do gasp with horror) - but I figure if it survives, in the fall I will give it another trim to bring it into real shape, and by then I will have looked for more information about how to do it 'right'.

We did it in two instalments, and this photo
was taken after the first phase. A lot from the
top still went down the next day.

And, as my longarm is taking its way out my door, I caved in to temptation and got myself a little toy, a very small elna machine which I found on ebay. My husband doesn't know about this yet, and I am still keeping it a secret as both guys keep teasing me about sewing machines and accumulation and I had actually said I would not need another machine in my life. Which is true. Need is not what I would have called the feeling prior to/in connection with this purchase. Greed is more like it.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Forced to Flee - SAQA exhibition goes zoom webinar

 My piece "Everyone has the right", a detail of which is currently showing as the opening picture on this blog, is traveling with SAQA's exhibition "Forced to Flee". It is being shown live right now:

Pauly Friedman Art Gallery at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania: March 25 - June 6, 2021.

And an online panel and webinar will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, April 13, at 7 pm Eastern (US) time, as I was informed first by Kathleen Loomis, who also has a piece in the show and will be on the panel, before an official notification came from SAQA today, too. It is a free online event, all you need to do is register under

Unfortunately, because of the different time zones I won't be able to attend it myself, which I am really sad about. But perhaps some of you will be able to stay (or be) up (until) that time. I am certain it will be an interesting event.

Everyone has the right - text messages
(currently traveling in Forced to Flee)

The other pieces and participants in the exhibition can be seen online here, on the SAQA website.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

yet again, two more weeks of lockdown/restrictions

 Yesterday the Bavarian government announced two more weeks of regulations regarding opening of shops depending on numbers of infection within a district. Because some types of shops have taken their cases to court - why are hardware stores allowed to open, but not shoe stores? - it is getting stricter again for every type of store. The same with schools. Authorities keep saying schools are an important field for social interaction and that's why it is so important to keep students going there in shifts (half the class only, the other is at home doing assignments), with masks, overstressing teachers who have been working at their limit for so long, while many participants say digital teaching is more effective - and safer in terms of infectious process. It is getting very very tiresome. 

We are having another bout of winter with gusty winds and temperatures that make me shudder (ok, mostly due to the wind chill factor, but that is unpleasant indeed). I am not used to turning on the heater much anymore in April, but I have done so for the past days constantly. It snowed all day yesterday, although it didn't settle on the ground. I am worried about my little pohutukawa tree, a reminiscence of my New Zealand travels (although I bought it here), which returned from its winter storage almost four weeks ago.

So far it is still looking ok, but I do hope it warms up quickly.


On the other hand, my field of sunflowers is putting up an amazing speed of sprouting, I took these little fellows inside the house. 

I had a lovely conversation with the pixeladies on zoom yesterday. I have known them personally since they had come to Ste. Marie-aux-Mines for one of the EPM meetings way back then when we were still traveling and I want to include a section on their online teaching in an article I am writing for the German Patchwork Guild's magazine. Talking to them was so much fun and gave me a bit of a boost, emotionally. It made me wonder why I haven't done that more often, now that everybody is doing zoom-casts all the time. I have joined in with some of the regional SAQA meetings for SAQA Europe/Middle East, but they tend to be on Monday nights when I have my piano lesson, and so I can't join in often. This whole covid thing is just wearing me down - and I find it hard to concentrate on creativity and mindfulness for myself. Although I try.

During this chat with Kris and Deb I realized that the #gildemodernburgoyne design-a-thon I have started for the Guild is perhaps not the type of creativity I usually strive for. But it also is a type of creativity, albeit it lacks the haptic aspect that is so important when handling fabric. Of course, ideally, it would lead to a design and a plan that will be executed, getting me back to the fabric. (However, at that stage, the creativity part for me would be mostly finished as I am not really somebody who works from plans.) But I have made a quilt with that pattern - in my own un-planned manner, and wasn't exactly considering making another one ... we will see.

Yet I have been continuing on the design path, and yesterday, in between two night shifts at the hospital, I published my day 10 on the Guild's website forum. As I had said, I wanted to try out the block put onto a corner, and at first I stuck with the rainbow coloring. Here I will present a selection of the various design options I came up with. In this first one, the sashing between the blocks is still relatively broad. The effect of the circle in the interior block gets lost, and the lines of squares appear to be much more prominent than in the other orientation. I did not spend time adapting colors of the squares in the nine-patches between the blocks and the sashing sections, but that would certainly increase the overall unity of the rainbow coloring, pulling the blocks together.

Here, width of sashing was reduced, which results in a more prominent effect of the lines. Blocks between sashing and blocks are four patches.

I also tried a version with colored sashing, taking up the rainbow hues, in both a wide and a narrow sashing.

There were several other versions I tried, and the most surprising one happened when I tried to 'go darker' in the inner block. Probably I had chosen two different hues in the rectangles because when I tried to change their color with 'swap color', this is what happened.

Saved is as a "whoops!" and am kind of in love with it.

Monday, April 5, 2021

After Easter, still in lockdown, ...

 After having been vaccinated, and as my parents had been vaccinated right at the beginning of vaccination, I took the liberty to go and visit them for this past weekend, despite the fact that there had been an urgent call to 'stay at home if possible'. (There is so much bickering going on between the heads of the federal states, each of which is taking their own liberties in terms of opening or closing or allowing or not that it is getting very very exhausting - first to stay ahead of the knowledge of what is allowed or not, and since we have been dealing with all this for over a year now, psychological resilience is fading, seriously.) We stayed within the limits of contact persons, so everything was legal in that realm, but I did figure that three vaccinated adults could meet, even if it meant a five-hour-train-journey each way. 

I managed to take a walk with my mother who is still recuperating from three serious surgeries in succession last year and who is severely limited in her ability to walk freely. Seeing her like that is indeed a moving sight. There was a bit of spring in the air, albeit temperatures were still a bit chilly and the leaves were just about starting to come out.


 My parents have a very nice Japanese flowering tree in front of the house which is always the first sign spring, and it was in its full glory.

And I did catch a beautiful sunset through their living room window. The house is situated right opposite a wood section wich is always beautiful to see.

And my mother and I spent some time with me showing her what I had learned about EQ8 with my #gildemodernburgoyne project for the German Patchwork Guild. After all, she had paid for most of the programme, it had been my Christmas present. My design experiments have progressed over the last week, and I could show her what I had been doing.

Today's post includes a bit of a rainbow arrangement, at the request of one of the web-editors who are helping me with technical issues and other tidbits. For a full-blown design I would also take the colors into the nine-patches between the blocks, but I did not do this for the computer mock-up. This is only half a rainbow, I did another version with the full range, but that would be a very large quilt indeed!

While showing my mother the possibilities, I also for the first time looked at other layout options, such as squares on the diagonal, and will explore those a bit more in the next few days.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

What kind of film is this?

 A lot of life is going on these days, and it leaves little time to ponder what would be worth writing about. Only little time for stitching as such, anyway.

And then so many things happening that bother me. I received my second dose of vaccine on Friday, which in itself is a very good thing and I am immensely grateful for, despite all the vagaries about the vaccines as such, the mode of distribution in Germany / Europe / less developed countries, how the pharmaceutic corporations are using it to manifest and milk their power, and instances of corruption in politicians connected with face masks blablabla. 


I had received the shot around 2 p.m., my arm started hurting later that afternoon, getting bad and worse, and then I went to sleep at 8 p.m. And slept. and slept. and slept. Except for two minor trips to the lavatory, a drink of water and a few words with my husband I was not able to do anything on Saturday, I slept and slept and slept. Until way into Sunday morning. By Sunday noon I was pretty much my old self again, if a bit slowed down still. But I did feel somewhat like a Rippa van Winkle, especially when looking through the paper, which, at that point was only yesterday’s paper, but sported news that seemed to tell me that the world was really crumbling in its mindset, as if my sleep interval had made my perception to it all even more acute.

Or has the virus dug deeper into all our brains and is by now really getting to our core? Life seems to be getting stranger and stranger, and some things I see hurt me more and more. One example: the current head of the grouping calling itself the Christian Democratic Values Union, a rather right-oriented section within the Christian Democratic Party (definitely not a party on the liberal spectrum of the political scene – they are conservative! they promote conservative values!) announced he would not be available for another term when a new head would be elected within a couple of months, because of the “dangerously left-oriented turn that Christian Democratic Policies have taken”. Excuse me? I have a very hard time understanding where left-orientation can be found or even suspected in Merkel’s or anybody from the CDU’s ranks politics. It felt like being in the wrong film. That’s when I first thought about how Rip van Winkle must have felt. And I had only been gone for a day. Made me wonder, too, how people who are recovering from a coma, or whatever kind of longish sedation, feel like, when they are returning back to real life. And then I began thinking about Sleeping Beauty and the depiction of her waking up after her hundred years of sleep. Being ‘kissed awake’, and simply as that she is whisked off by the prince, I mean, did he ask her whether that was what she wanted? But to be honest – I did not follow this thought through. I had applied for a job at the University of the Arts in Berlin earlier this year, as the HR person for Equal Opportunities, and while simply the process off applying, imagining myself back in an academic environment, how it would be and what it would mean to me living in a city like Berlin did me very good, the fact that I wasn’t even invited for an interview really pissed me off. However, I don’t approve of the way political movements are now trying to interfere with spelling ‘regulations’ that are supposed to show a more inclusive attitude towards underprivileged sections of society. I don’t think it will work through political pressure, these regulations will only split society even further – so in the end I am a bit relieved that I did not get that job and would have had to be at the forefront of this issue. Where my stand probably wouldn’t have been received well.

I am rambling on, mostly because I don’t have a lot to show. I did start a sunflower field and a tomato farm, though!


But there is something interesting going on. For almost two weeks now I have been posting design options for the Burgoyne Surrounded block on the Patchwork Gilde Deutschland’s website, members area. Which is turning into an adventure in designing for me. I am slowly learning tricks and options of EQ8 that way and have come up with some really fun layouts.

Here are a few recent highlights from the last two posts.



As I am not exactly sure whether this activity is actually finding any response within the Guild’s community (nobody except the web editor has left a comment in the comment area yet). It has received some nice comments on Instagram when I post on my personal account, whereas the members forum is open only to members, so I have decided to take at least some of the most exciting designs (in my opinion) that I come up with to a wider public. Be prepared to see a few more of these here during the month of April. One thing I will try to do is to improve the quality of the pictures, perhaps saving them in a different size will also make them a bit more catchy.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

An eerie little respite...


For months on end everything has been closed, no workshops or gatherings or even visits with more than one other person possible. Then it seemed as if numbers were going down, a new regulation for adult education centers was announced (my son was alternately going back to school, too) – and the workshop at my usual retreat place Petersberg, north-east of Munich, scheduled for this past weekend, was happening. Only a third of the people who had originally signed up actually committed to coming under the strict hygienic regulations posed by the administration, but the director nevertheless decided that it would be ‘on’.

At first I had been sceptical whether I wanted this to happen, or did I want to go – it meant a severe cut in revenue, after all, and as I had been expecting it to be canceled I had thought about other things to do for the weekend (i.e. finally get serious about studying for my upcoming exams). But after a number of unpleasant experiences last week I was happy enough to get out when time came around, packed my car, and took off.


A bit of dramatic sky on the way there – we have been having rather cold temperatures with April-kind-of-weather. And then we were the only group, eight people, in a house where normally there can be up to eighty people. It felt a bit eerie indeed. Eight small peas in a large pod...

But we were determined to make the best of it. I had posited that we talk about anything expect the Big C thing, and although in a few instances little references happened, everybody in the group was eager to check everybody else. We had a lovely weekend sewing, chatting, trying out stuff. It wasn’t a workshop, because we felt that the others who didn’t come but still somehow belong to the group (it’s a rather consistent pool of participants who regularly come to the gatherings) shouldn’t be left out completely. They actually 'joined' us twice for brief zoom interactions.

I enlisted everybody present to make one example of the block ‘burgoyne surrounded’, which is the topic of the current sew along I am hosting for the German Guild, and we came up with a nice selection of examples. 


Iris tried an inversion with two colours.

Gina tried her hand on the smaller version
where the small squares measure 1/2 inch only.

A display of (most of) the examples made by the group
(a portion of the light blue ones in the right upper hand corner
I had already made at home and brought with me, I
would not have been able to make that many, they do take time...)

Some of them I may use for further explorations of the pattern in the next few weeks. For posting on social media we even dared take a photo for which we dropped our masks briefly after having set it all up in an almost socially distanced array.


Numbers of infection are on the rise again, and the house may have to close down again perhaps day after tomorrow. So this was a strange little heavenly retreat. But it gave a feeling of almost normal, at least until the moment when we had to leave again Sunday afternoon.