Thursday, January 31, 2013

Colour of the day: the first selection

Red: January 1

Orange: January 26

Yellow: January 3

Green: January 18
Blue: January 23
Purple: January 6

This project has slightly more of a challenge in that I do have to actively remember every morning "Now which colour is it for today?" I am glad I sat down in the very beginning and marked my calendar up until the end of June...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spiritual Guidance through the telephone

I spent several days trying to enter three quilts for „Fantastic Fibers“at the YeiserArt Centre.
I had created an account a couple of weeks ago already, and correctly remembered the my username and password. I even managed to upload images and detail images of the quilts, and had entered all the relevant information. I could even see that three entries were in my ‘cart’.

Detail of "Euro-Blues", entered at Fantastic Fibers

But when it came to billing, it got problematic. Neither checking the Paypal option nor the Credit Card option got me to a point where I got a button that I could proceed with checkout. When I chose “review cart” I kept seeing the same screen over and over again, with no indication what was missing. When I clicked on “checkout” to get me out of that loop, I had to re-enter all the information. I did not choose “cancel” because I was afraid it might delete my uploaded entries in total.
I e-mailed the administrative assistant, John Henry, who was trying to be helpful, but had never heard of anybody else with this problem and suggested I try again from another computer. Same problem. I was beginning to wonder whether this was a sign that I wasn’t supposed to enter this one? Was it me?
When time was running out yesterday afternoon, just a few hours before the deadline for entries ended, I decided to call Kathy Loomis, assuming that she would have entered and would be familiar enough with the entry procedure to know what I was talking about. She had indeed completed her entry a few hours before, but was also surprised when I described my problem. Thanks to the portable phones these days I could take the receiver with me, and while I was talking to her describing what was going wrong I was repeating the same processes at the computer. I don’t remember whether I did anything differently than during my numerous attempts before, except for entering one sentence in the box “comments on purchase” (which had not been marked as obligatory). But with Kathy’s spiritual guidance through the telephone, this time it worked. Suddenly I got another screen that my entry was complete, and immediately after that received the confirmation e-mail. Thank you, Kathy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

„Blue Monday“

Both my machines came back from their wellness-trip. Delivered to the front door because the dealer was coming by anyway, and I did not want to drive in the snow.

Big Bernina and little Bernina, safely returned...

It’s snowing, with lots of traffic at the bird feeder.

And, accordingly, more snow-dyeing. Which I had been happily doing last week already with the last pieces of fabric, and the new fabric, which arrived on Wednesday. Today I put in some blue.

Sort of as a parallel action to the regular dyeing for the fabric club, which will be an assortment of blues. 

To drive out the Blues! A much better Monday than the one last week, for sure!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

In the mail: Parquet-top for Mayan families

During the fall I taught a sort of traditionally oriented patchwork class based on old parquet patterns. The class was initiated by a pattern book that my husband gave me as a present a few years ago, and had been ‘in the making’ since then. But as the Germans say, “Gut Ding will Weile haben” (good things may take a while), the class was fun, the students were pleased, and the outcomes were interesting.
Only last week one of the participants, who had only been quilting for a little over a year when she took part in the class, proudly showed me her result. And right she is to be proud of what she has achieved.

Because the class had been in close proximity to the exhibit in Alsace I myself had only produced samples of the various patterns that were on the agenda, and hadn’t finished a complete quilt. However, I decided that I would use a little packet of assorted Oakshott fabrics in combination with my stash to work a top for Bonnie Bucknam’s charity project. She has already made one hundred quilts for the children in an orphanage in Guatemala and is now making more quilts to give to Mayan families in the area. I had finished the top before Christmas, but waited to send it off until the Christmas rush is over. It’s in the mail now, and I do hope it will arrive at Bonnie’s safe and sound:

After that top, I made a little quilt for the German Guild’s challenge “Checkered Fish” which will be showing at the British Guild’s AGM in Nottingham (UK) in April.

My way of dealing with the fabrics that were called "checkered fish"
by the German Guild, detail of unfinished quilt

A week after the AGM, a slightly abbreviated version of the parquet class will be held in Newcastle for region 15. Please contact me and I will gladly supply you with a contact address for more information in case you are interested. Before that, a full weekend parquet-workshop is scheduled in (almost) northern Germany in March, on the weekend of March 22-24, in Alfeld (between Göttingen and Hannover, roughly speaking). Several spots are still available, and I could easily do bilingual teaching German/English. In case you are interested, please contact me and I will get you in touch with Mary, who organizes it all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

No lights, no machines, no fabric...

Yesterday I received news from Eileen Doughty of SAQA that my quilt „Illuminated“, which is supposed to be still traveling with „Beyond Comfort“ has stopped functioning. The lights aren’t working anymore. After it had started with problems at the first venue in Birmingham in 2011, we had agreed that it would not be hung again should the lights fail again. I don’t want it to stick in people’s minds as the Un-Illuminated quilt when it is shown in the catalogue in its full glory. So the decision that Illuminated will no longer be on display with the rest of the exhibition is mine, full well. But I am very sad about this nevertheless. It is one of my favorite quilts of those I have made. I just hope it will be back to ‘functioning’ or at least repairable when it returns to that European voltage that the LED-lights were made for, and doesn’t have to live with an adapter anymore. Otherwise it would be quite a challenge to take off that string of lights and attach a new one, probably infeasible. Not exactly a good start to a week...
Add to that the fact that my sewing machines needed to go for a check-up, both at the same time. The “little one” had been for wellness in the fall already and I thought I had a safe backup with it, when the big Bernina, after 8 months of intensive usage started telling me that it wanted to be looked at. But when my son and I unpacked the little one to sew a costume for him for the upcoming carnival it kept leaving out stitches. So both of them went on a little retreat. I did get a substitute, but because it didn’t come with a quarter-inch-foot nor with a darning foot (and of course it doesn’t take the ones I have) I doubt that I will be using it a lot. There are plenty of other things that need to be done. Like basting a quilt so that it is ready for quilting when the machines come back.

Play of Lines XXXII being basted

Nevertheless, I do feel a bit amputated.
And, thirdly, the fabric that I ordered to start dyeing the January collection of the fabric club hasn’t arrived yet. It was supposed to be shipped at the beginning of last week, and I had planned to start dyeing yesterday. When I called yesterday, they said they would send it out right away. So perhaps Wednesday. Which means it will be Thursday before I can go ahead and start dyeing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Art in (re)construction

Last week I spent a few days visiting family near Karlsruhe, where I grew up. On an outing to the city we passed by the site of the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht),  situated right next to the castle.

While we were there, the weather was quite different - this picture of the castle in the sun was copied from here

The court building is currently under reconstruction. 

I was enthralled by the fact that a cooperation of the court and the Art Academy in Karlsruhe had put art on the fence around the construction site, and thus into public view. If you care to take the time and notice while you’re passing by.

This is an installation by Bea Stach.

She randomly chose six rulings by the court that had been passed during the past sixty years, one ruling for every decade. The words, numbers, letters, symbols contained in the opinions of these rulings were arranged in alphabetical order and printed on large boards.

An interesting insight into the language of the court and into German as such – though more into the language of the court, as e.g. the word for “environment” didn’t appear, certainly due to the selection of rulings.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A little bit more on knitting

This is not turning into a knitting blog, but I want to report on a few more knitting activities I pursued while going through my post-exhibition-blues in the fall.
During our family holiday in June on the North Sea island Föhr I had paid a visit to the local history museum, which had a lot of interesting information on the geological and social history of the island. In one of the showcases I saw a white knitted cotton blanket which was labeled as having come to the museum through the estate of one of the seafaring captains of the island.
Something about this blanket caught my attention, I can’t even exactly say what it was. Unfortunately, the blanket was shown from the left side:

Knitted cotton blanket in museum on Föhr Island

No more information was to be had from the staff. Nobody had ever inquired anything about this blanket before. And no, she would definitely not be able to open the showcase and let me see the blanket from the right side.
I talked to the owner of the local yarn store – she had no recollection of that blanket, and no, she did not know about any specific knitting patterns on the island. “The women were working so hard, they made use with the kind of patterns they got from somewhere else,” – she did not believe this was an indigenous Föhr pattern. (They probably would have knitted in wool, too, since cotton is not really a staple of the North Sea islands...)
About six weeks later and almost nine hundred kilometres away I went to a local history museum here in Lower Bavaria. And there was exactly the same kind of white knitted cotton blanket. Spread out over a table, and turned to the right side, so I could easily get a good picture of the two segments that alternated and made up the entire blanket.

In the fall I started knitting and counting, and figured out how each of the segments was made. For the larger segment I even started with a thin yarn. Although I knew right from the beginning I wasn’t going to knit a whole blanket, all I wanted to do is figure out the pattern. So for the second segment I opted for a more comfortable thicker yarn. Of course, now the pieces don’t fit together. (I posted the pattern on my German blog here – sorry, I have never really knitted in English, so am not familiar enough with English knitting terminology that I would dare translate this into an English version. You might end up with something entirely different.)

The beginning is a bit tricky - after 4 rows things get easier.

One middle section completed -
when joined to the others, the octagon will be visible


Alternate segment, a little larger than in the original blanket,
because I kept going for a few more rows

I don’t know whether this kind of blanket was one of the mass articles of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, or where it came from. But the fact that I happened across the same style blanket within six weeks, and at opposite ends of Germany, got me hooked. Is there anybody out there who has seen a similar blanket, had one in their home perhaps, and knows anything about their place of origin? I’m curious.

Also during the fall through a friend I came across a wonderful book on Fair Isle Knitting by Alice Starmore, (find her website here, which has a lot of history of knitting in the Scottish Isles, and patterns patterns patterns. Makes you want to order Alice Starmore’s yarns and start making swatches, so many that you won’t be able to make up your mind which one you want to turn into a sweater first!

Since she seemed like a serious knitting historian, I’ve sent an inquiry to Alice Starmore about this blanket, and am waiting for an answer.
And, just in case you’re interested: here is an interesting link to a history of knitting

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Colour of the month and Daily Art for 2013

So this post on December 31, 2012, was the last instalment of my daily art project in 2012, Color of the month. Again, the color purple wasn’t as difficult as I had thought it might be in terms of finding purple items. (Though I do admit, after the first round purple I had always been on the lookout for purple, which means that this time around I could rely on other pictures in my files than just the flowers from June...) Both of the last two months, however, November and December, were difficult in terms of lighting and color perception. These grey German winters – if I could, I would definitely scratch them from the calendar!

It was a fun project. Partly because it was so interesting to experience the difference when opening the various folders on my computer where I had saved the pictures:

The folder 'blue'

The folder 'orange'

The folder 'purple'

The folder 'yellow'

What I will do with those pictures I haven’t used I haven’t yet decided. Perhaps a memory game. Except that we already have so many memory games, and my son is slowly growing out of them... Of course I could print a special limited art edition with, let’s say, a circulation of ten and then sell it for an outrageous price, finally making some money with my art?

But I will also continue looking out for new possibilities with colours, so here is my Daily Art project for 2013: Colour of the day.
  • Every day of the year I will take a picture of a colour following the sequence red – orange – yellow – green – blue – purple, changing every day. That way I will have each colour appearing on each day of the week eventually, and several times a month.
  • The picture HAS to be taken on that day – no going back to archives.
  • If I really can’t find that colour on a particular day, the next colour in the sequence may be substituted, but then the colour missed must appear the next day, not skipped.
  • At the end of the month, one picture of each colour will be chosen to be posted on the blog.

Now what I will have to do is really keep track of which day it is and which colour I should be looking for...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Wishing everybody a happy, healthy, successful, creative and economically sound year 2013!