Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Grief

 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.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Intentions and unintended developments

One year and a few days ago I started a project. On the day after my 58th birthday I began posting daily on Instagram under the hashtag #58plusdaily. My intention was to post mostly about my creative activities, with a little bit of ‘life’ thrown in. I figured my love for taking photographs, although it has never developed into anything reaching any kind of artistic standard, would always enable me to post at least some creatively taken photograph. The ultimate aim was to boost my creative activities which have been suffering, I think, since I started the nursing course and then working as a nurse. A post a day is a minimal time investment but would always give me a line to keep my eyes open for something interesting to photograph. In the beginning of April 2023 I had reduced my working hours and dreamed I would be back to quilting lots and lots, finally finding a way back into making mode. I did not count how many posts I did, I did not actually post every single day, but I did not miss too many.

The intention of boosting my creative activities, which I, mostly, wanted to turn back into the fabric realm, didn’t realize to the degree that I had hoped for. There was a lot of life going on, and many reasons kept me from sitting down at the sewing machine, putting my mind to a quilt design wall, picking up a few pieces of fabric. I was making, making something with my hands every day – I completed a sweater, socks and a few other knitting items, I handspun yarn, I did some hand stitching, relatively mindlessly putting scraps together which might turn into something eventually, it is good company to take along on a train or on travels.





 I even completed quilts.

This piece became a section in my entry for the 'Ocean' challenge by EPM.

The Essence of the Haiku, for 20 Perspectives

A baby blanket from orphan blocks for a little girl

This became "Seeing Red", my entry to Brno Festival Challenge

"Family Histories in Textiles and Books" for 20 Perspectives

My contribution to the Round Bobbin Challenge
for the Swiss Patchwork Guild's 35th anniversary


 

Searching for the hashtag now shows me that the pictures are mostly indeed pretty good, but there is much more of ‘life’ being shown on Instagram than ‘creativity’. Looking at the photos in my gallery the overall pictures changes – there are a LOT of very very good and creative photos indeed. (Not intending to brag, but hey, it’s true.)


 

As the year of that hashtag is over simply because the number changed recently I am still trying to get back into the creative regularity I used to have – but who am I kidding? Even if I am not working full time, I am working 50%, and have set up a rather strange commute situation. I can’t expect to be able to make so much time for creativity as I could when I was not working outside the house at all, ‘only’ doing the small fabric dyeing business and bringing up a child.

What did happen during the past year, however, were a lot of changes I had not foreseen or envisioned. And some consequences of these changes I cannot fully grasp yet. And there are more to come – ageing parents (we have had dramatic developments on both sides of our family, my husband’s mother as well as my father), an extremely difficult-to-deal-with colleague for my husband, who has now decided to draw the line and move to a different position (problem ahead: emptying out and moving house after 19 years in one place), sending my son off to university, adapting to the changes Long Covid has brought into our lives as my husband is dealing with it, a ‘mild’ version that is still a very unpleasant experience for everybody affected and involved. All this while I am still adjusting to the new work environment, colleagues, that extreme bi-weekly commute I willingly inflicted on myself.

Many people have told me before that they admire how much I seem to get done. I think I have mentioned before that I never have the feeling I am actually getting enough done of all the things I set myself up to. But that may be the problem, resulting from my philosopher-father who, of all things, constantly worked on the topic of achievement. I have to be kinder to myself – I have indeed achieved a lot during the last year, and I need to be gently with myself to be able to tackle whatever lies ahead in the near and not-quite-so-near future.

I won’t be doing another daily-photo-thing on Instagram, mostly because I am less plussed with Insta than I used to be. I do intend to make daily, I will report about it here and sometimes on Insta and I hope to get through these very challenging times ahead of us without a burn-out, freak out or complete collapse. But making is important, and daily making indeed. Some idea I had about getting into a daily regular habit has started but not achieved the regularity or continuity yet. Perhaps, soon...

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Overcommitted?

 It has happened a number of times that people have told me how much they admire how I manage 'to do all these things'. It might be the legacy of a philosopher father who did a lot of thinking and writing about achievement/accomplishment/performance, who knows. I do know that I do achieve many things. Yet there is always this nagging feeling that there are so many other things I wanted to do or have done as well, and that did not get finished. 

And I know that I have a tendency to plan too many things. When I started nursing I had not really planned to cut back on the amount of time I spend quilting, I had only quit the fabric dyeing business. When I realized I would not be able to maintain the same amount of quilting production as before I had a hard time getting myself to adjust my quilting plans. And I still have not mananged to take a realistic approach with regard to what I want to do in terms of quilting. For example, I signed up for the expensive SAQA online conference which just happened. And have not listened to a single of the lectures. I wanted to make two quilts to enter in Wide Horizons and one to enter in EPM's "Ocean" contest, and I managed to make only one for WH (which I also doubled as an entry for Brno Patchwork Meeting), and then decided to enter the Ocean piece in WH as well. The plan for the second piece for WH is still there, but right now I don't know when I can begin on that one.

I wanted to enter a piece for the German Guild's challenge using the misprinted pins for last year's Patchworktage, and I had a great idea. And it would have been a small quilt only as the measurements are really manageable 15x30 cm, I believe. 

The left pin is the misprint, the right one has the correct orientation of the logo.

 

I had almost a whole year to complete the quilt. The pins are still on my wall and the quilt will never be made as the deadline for entry has passed by now.

But I have finally started to work on my contribution for the EQA challenge 'Imagine a Bird', and that may actually get finished. (Of course, I am the lucky one who collects all the contributions before they are being taken to the first exhibition venue, so I can put in the last finishing touches the night before I leave, and nobody would know...)



Life is very complicated right now and will continue to be so for a while, yet I made certain today that I got at least a few minutes of creative time in today. I do want to complete that bird!

Of course, taking a four day trip to Brno, Czech Republic, last weekend, to hang, steward and return a 20 Perspectives show at the Brno Patchwork Meeting didn't help to make spare time for stitching. But on the other hand it was a bit of a reprieve from all the things going on in real family life these days. We presented two of the collections, Nature and Monochrome.

Outside wall and entrance to the 20 Perspectives gallery

Ildiko performed a bit of open heart surgery before
the opening of the show to remove a couple of hanging threads


With my two pieces in these two collections, and my entry to the Zero Waste challenge and my piece in the German Guild's Tradition bis Moderne I had a total of four quilts in the show.

Entangled in Yellow, 24 x 32"

I'll follow the Sun, 24 x 24"

Mellowed Yellow, 150 x 160 cm

Seeing Red, 90 x 130 cm


When I arrived I was greeted with the question whether I had brought my quilt for the competition with me as it had not yet arrived... Imagine my surprise, as I had shipped the parcel in the middle of March. Fortunately they found it, but perhaps it was really only put up at that point, because I thought it was not hanging rather advantageously. But I was glad I got to take it home when I returned! Now waiting to hear whether it got into Wide Horizons or not.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

A Quilt in Australia

Several years ago I sent a quilt to an Australian exhibition, the first time I know of that a quilt of mine was shown ‘down under’. That was Shapes 27: Reflections on the Nine Patch, where I was experimenting with reflector fabric, some shiny fabric I had once been given by a friend, and loose end in the quilting.

Shapes 27: Reflections on the Nine Patch, 90 x 90 cm

 
When light falls onto the quilt in certain angles,
other Nine Patch shapes become visible as well.


Glitzy fabric in the dark, reflector fabric, and loose end in the quilting

It might be possible that one of the SAQA shows I was in was shown in Australia? I’m afraid I am not good at keeping track of where my quilts are going when they are touring the venues without me…

This weekend, however, my quilt “Between Portals” is (at the point of writing already: was) being shown at the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne, as part of the group exhibition by 20 Perspectives, “Doors, Windows and Portals”. 


 

Julie Haddrick secured the opportunity to show there for the group, Anne Bellas and Phyllis Cullen traveled as clandestine quilt transporters, and the three of them are rocking the show.

Phyllis Cullen (left), Anne Bellas (middle), Julie Haddrick (right)

 
View into the exhibition hall

Unfortunately, they have reported that lighting in the halls is not very conducive to taking good pictures, 


In this picture, my quilt is hidden behind the perpendicular little angle

 

so if you want to have a good look at all the pieces shown, please take a look at the group’s website, especially the gallery for this specific exhibition: https://www.20perspectives.com/new-gallery-images

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Café Leisure, sort of.

 Having moved north, bi-weekly, my type of leisure activities after work has changed a lot. 

 

My favorite swimming spot, this afternoon,
with a cuddly water temperature of 10 degrees C.


Formeost, of course, is my daily walk along the lake towards one of two bathing spots, and my daily swim. Relatively short, as the water temperature is on the coolish side, but the duration of my stays in the water is increasing, and I enjoy this new habit of mine so much that I can’t find the fitting words to describe the pleasure in a satisfying manner.

As I am still living in a nurse’s dorm with limited space and rather unattractive kitchen facilities I have also developed a new habit of going to a café that is part of a not-too-far-away organic food store at least once a week. Either for a piece of cake and some cappuccino, or, as today, for a bit of lunch.

Lemon tart and apple cake, both very delicious.

Vegetarian Potatoe Soup. Delicious - but I don't mind a bit of bacon in there, either.
 

The second time I went there I watched this little robin through the window 


 

(listening to birds is another pleasure I am delving into, although I must admit that my ability to recognized their different songs has not improved dramatically yet, despite my frequent referral to a bird-identifying app) 

 

Screenshot from BirdNET identification

and already then I thought this might become a potential Café Leisure for times when I am up north. Alas, they don’t have customer internet, and phone reception in the area seems to be a bit on the weak or instable side of things, which is why I haven’t actually taken the computer there and written a post on the premises. I guess I could, however, just write it there and post it later when I return to the dorm and it’s wi-fi service. Certainly the place would qualify for what I was thinking of when I first started writing posts under this label.

My room in the dorm is rather sparsely furnished, and although I did bring my small sewing machine, I have taken it out only once so far, because there is no adequate space to put it up and use it comfortably. I used it to attach flaps on my uniform tops to the back so they would not stand up and make me look ridiculous.


 

This little machine was an acquisition when the Featherweight Sewing Machine Hype was really gaining ground and I had been infected with that virus of desire, too, but didn’t want to spend that kind of money as they were being sold for. I had seen an Elna like this several years ago and developed a certain desire for one like it, but never acted upon that yearning. Amidst the Featherweight Hype, however, I remembered, searched the internet and found this one, for less than a quarter of the price that Featherweight were going for. I haven’t used it much yet, but figure that I will do more so once I move into my own apartment. Which should be soon-ish, as I have actually signed the rental agreement and am supposed to receive the keys towards the middle of the month.

When I come up north next time, I will be coming with a small van full of stuff, and then it will be more of ‘living’ rather than camping out in a dorm. I don’t think it will change my new habit of daily walks and swimming, though, nor, perhaps, the weekly stroll to the Café Leisure. But it will open up more options for being creative by having a table to put up the machine without running the danger of banging my knee on the corner of the bedding box which served as a ‘table’ yesterday.

And once I have my own wi-fi in the apartment I may certainly take the computer to the Café to write, and post later that night, for why not?