Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer pictures: harvest time

Last week I managed to talk my son into taking a bike trip with me. The day before we had been to a tour about / Streuobstwiese with the Rotary Club, and there had been at least two plum trees that hadn’t been harvested, and the guide had also told us that nobody usually harvested the fruit. But I love plum tart, especially at this time of the year, and we don’t have our own tree. So my son and I hitched my little trailor to the bike, and set off.
We did pick plums indeed, many.

And we have had tart from them twice already, the rest has been deep frozen.

But there was a lot more of a harvest feeling in the air, even if not everything depicted on these pictures is edible for us.

At this time of year I always think I would have made a good farmer – there is such an urge in me to harvest, make preserves and prepare food storage for winter. Although I don't have a vegetable garden...

And the oaks are predicting a harsh winter indeed, their acorns are thick, and very many. 

Which is good – although I am enjoying summer right now, I do want a winter with lots of snow, for snow dyeing.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Festival of Quilts, a few days later

In the days since I returned from Birmingham I have been trying to find the right balance to finish what needs to be finished in those last remaining (not quite) three weeks before Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, and at the same time to pay proper attention to my son, who is on school holidays and slightly amiss with himself without a school schedule. That’s not always easy. We’ve been to the pool a lot – but unfortunately it’s been hot, and lots of other people had the same idea. I used to be a competitive swimmer a long time ago, which has spoiled me in terms of being used to swimming in a divided lane, perfectly willing to share the lane with others who do their lap circles. But I have a lot of problems when I have to try to weave my way through lots of occasional sunny day swimmers who refuse to share (or give up) the lane they have conquered with any swimmer who actually puts her head in the water when swimming. So when the pool is crowded I don’t even go in, but do a little bit of aqua-gymnastics in a corner, or go and join my son on the slides. Personally, I go to the pool when the weather is bad, then I can be sure to find room for decent swimming.
But my son has also discovered the Asterix-comic strip which I used to read when I was younger, and he has been captured by a few other books as well, so I have had stretches of time when I could actually sit down and work during the day. So while I sat there stitching away on the two last remaining quilts for Ste. Marie, I had time to go back to the days at Birmingham.

On the finishing straight: Play of Lines XXIX
After many years of visiting quilt shows I am always amazed at how many people take sooo many pictures of quilts at these shows. I do wonder how many of them ever look at these pictures again. I admit that in my first one or two years of visiting quilt exhibits I took a number of photos, too (and that was before I went digital!) However, I very quickly realized that I never looked at those photos again afterwards, but that handwritten notes about a certain technique or special detail were much more likely to call my attention again later on. So I take only very few pictures, and in the evening it is a bit like a discovery tour, “now, which quilt did I actually take a picture of?” That hasn’t even changed much with blogging – I don’t take many pictures at quilt shows.
Interestingly enough the Birmingham system of showing the quilts with only a number and their title forced you to look up the maker’s name in the catalogue, and I had several instances where the quilts that caught my attention for whatever reason happened to have been made by people I knew personally.

Ita Ziv, Windows (6)

Judith Maggi-Fritschi, Cabin Fever

Mag Ramsay,
Rules the Waves
Admittedly, with Ita I recognized her style because I had seen her work in an exhibition in Munich a couple of years ago, and had met her there. And as I saw MagRamsay’s name when searching for the maker of her quilt in the catalogue, I did remember having seen the pictures on her blog a bit earlier, though I had not recognized the quilt as „one that I must’ve seen before“. I then finally met Mag Ramsay in person at the SAQA booth and over a cup of tea, which brings me to the next topic in my musings about what struck me about Birmingham. I really enjoyed meeting so many nice, interesting, friendly and open people. Having dinner and breakfast with Maggie Farmer gave me a number of insights into aspects of the English that I would never have acquired without her (Thank you for the entertaining time we spent together, Maggie!) I really appreciated meeting the women from Israel, and talking to Aina Muze  and Elina Lusis-Grinberga  from Latvia, and Jana Sterbova of the PraguePatchwork Meeting was enlightening and pleasant.
I have joined the Quilter’s Guild of the British Islesand signed up for their Contemporary group, hoping that that will also help me meet new people and stay in touch with the world.
I was very much impressed with the solo exhibitions, and think it is quite justified to plan for at least two full days if one wants to have enough leisure to look around. I did not manage to see everything that I would have liked to see, but then there is always only so much you can do in three days, including workshop participation and several lectures...
What left me almost untouched were the vendors. I have virtually stopped buying fabrics since I began dyeing my own – except for Balis. When Maggie Farmer produced one of her special finds I could not help but had her show me where she got it and bought a meter of it myself. The spontaneous idea for a quilt is now brewing. 

And I did buy a piece of African fabric at the African fabric shopI steadfastly passed by any stand that sold buttons. But I caved in with Oliver Twist’s hand-dyed threads and yarns:

This will give me a chance to emplow my new wool winder. Perhaps I can interest my son in doing the job for me. Might keep him busy for at least a little while...

Thursday, August 23, 2012


It's really been summer here since my return from the Festival. So we spend time at the local pool, and besides stitching the last two quilts that I want to get finished for Ste. Marie-aux-Mines (one won't get finished, since it hasn't even been started, and with only 2 1/2 weeks to go and a child home on summer vacation I don't really see much of a chance) there is not really much to write about.
But I did take a close look at a field of sunflowers the other day. My favorite flowers, my favorite color, and I don't understand how I could miss out on planting some in my garden this year... Well, here are a few pictures.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham

I have just completed my three days of visiting the FoQ as they call it here. Interesting. Fascinating. And completely exhausting. I could not possibly take another day, so it is just as well that my plane is leaving at 7.15 tomorrow morning.
The first time I had ever been to Birmingham was nine years ago, and it was here that my former life as an academic took a dramatic turn and eventually ended just over a year later. Despite having heard a lot of interesting stuff about the festival I had not been to see it, so I was very excited to be able to make plans to come here. I was lucky in booking workshops when early registration started in March, my travel agent got me a relatively reasonable flight and a better deal on the hotel rate than the festival rate would have been. And my husband was looking forward to taking our son on their first several-day-bike-trip while I would be away during the school holidays. 

So I arrived on Tuesday and had a day in the city of Birmingham on Wednesday. I’m not much of a shopper, but I did spend two hours in the bookstore as my very first idea of making use of this extra day by going to Hay-on-Wye and hit the bookstores there had not been feasible due to public transport connections. But I did a bit of roaming in the city, found the markets,

was glad I had bought an English umbrella on time

and finally went to visit the City Museum of Birmingham where they had an interesting small exhibition on African fabrics

and a wonderfully playful set of Egyption style rubber ducks in the gift shop.

On Thursday the festival itself opened. I began with a fun and interesting three-hour-workshop on “dye your own threads” with Lisa Walton.

Lisa Walton demonstrating
measuring threads into a skein

My first self-dyed threads in the hotel sink
Of course, the really testy part about this new skill, namely the rinsing/washing of the threads without getting them completely tangled needs to be done at home, and before that has happened, I won’t say anything as to how much of my own threads I will be effectively dyeing myself from now on. (Though I have stocked up on white thread supplies, which is indicative of my intention.)
In the afternoon I began working my way through the various exhibits, trying to do it as systematically as possible so I would not miss much. I was particularly impressed with the quality of solo-exhibits spread out through the booths in hall 7. I think if I had to chose a no.1 favorite it would be Pauline Burbridge’s
retrospective – of which there were no photos allowed, so all I can show you here is the entrance to it.

I saw a number of quilts I liked so it is rather difficult to present a selection here that would give a good overview of what could be seen. Therefore I restrict myself to five pictures of quilts that caught my eye for various reasons, without this passing any kind of judgement on the quilts that I am not showing here.

Cecilia Gonzalez Desedamas, Jazz Dots

Alicia Merrett's contribution to the Miniquilt Competition
Pamela Fitzsimmons, Werekata 2

Fitzsimmons, Detail
Winner in the category Pictorial Quilts:
Janneke de Vires-Bozinga, Graceful Dance

Neel Williams, Maledives 2

On Friday afternoon I took a class “Design Essentials “ with Sandra Meech

(and bought her new book afterwards) sincerely wishing it had been a class of at least three days instead of only three hours.
The SAQA “Meet and greet” therefore took place mostly without me as most of the people had left before I got there after the class was out, but I still managed to meet many interesting people then, at the hotel, and during my stint at the SAQA table for the wonderful exhibit “Masters 2”. It was nice to see Alicia Merrett again, such a pleasant re-encounter with Elaine Maunder who recognized me from behind after almost seven years, and I was glad to meet Maggie Farmer and Sandy Snowden, who had organized the meeting and the rota schedule for SAQA as British members of the organization. I was very happy to finally meet MagRamsay in person, had interesting conversations with Ita Liv, Eti David and Orna Ron from Israel (they saved my bag with 50 pounds worth of silk thread which I had left at the lecture theatre out of sheer exhaustion at the end of this third and last day – thank you very much!), got to know Martha Sielman,  the executive director of SAQA, and met Luana Rubin from the eQuilter  at dinner tonight.
It has been a wonderful three days, and I am absolutely ready to go to bed right now so I can catch my flight tomorrow morning.