Sunday, August 31, 2014

High Noon

16 - the pains of quilting

17 - what shall we have for lunch?

18 - two boys having fun

19 - found art

20 - starting Gulasch

21 - Bavaria, prototypical

22 - detour into the bushes?

23 - clock striking noon

24 - partly sunny, partly cloudy

25 - Guerilla Knitting, waiting for placement

26 - rainy day at garden fair

27 - reflection

28 - working at the computer

29 - rainy day at Legoland

30 - children's vacation activity with the fire brigade

31 - in transit towards soccer stadium

Saturday, August 30, 2014

When I’m old I am going to wear purple...

I remember that saying from way back then during the heyday of the feminist movement, which really puzzled me, because at that point - I must have been in my mid-twenties - I wasn't quite sure when 'old' would start.  I'm still not sure about that today, but that's a different story. In any case, this saying certainly came to my mind today when I received two orders for packages from the May 2014 Collection for my fabric club. Which had been a combination of six shades of purple.

Fabric Club Collection May 2014

My usual procedure is that I dye a certain amount of metres in every color – usually 4 or 5 lengths of fabric, depending on whether it is a month including the ‘light’ subscribers or not. One of the lengths I put on a bolt to include it in my overall selection, the others get cut up into fat quarters and half metres. A certain number of these has already been sold when they are being cut, according to the number of subscriptions. The remaining packages are the additional packages of the collection, for sale either via the website, or on offer when I go to a market. Thus, depending on the always slightly changing number of subscribers, the number of surplus packages available may vary, but I usually try to have around eight packages of Fat Quarters to begin with. These may be gone quickly, or they may linger a bit – for example, I still have a few packages from November 2013. 

Although that does not necessarily mean this was a particularly unpopular combination, in fact, in that case I had an unusually large number of surplus packages, if I remember correctly, there were 12 or so. In any case, after a certain time, the surplus packages are all gone.
Because I went to market in Karlsruhe with my fabrics for the first time this year, which was scheduled around the twentieth of the month, I had finished dyeing the May collection before I left and took the surplus packages with me to sell at the stand. 

Looking down on a segment of my fabric selection
as it appears at the stand
The regular packages had been packed, too, and were shipped to the subscribing customers after I returned, toward the end of the month. Which is my usual approximate date of shipment.
When I returned from Karlsruhe, all the surplus packages had already been sold – that was the first time my selection was sold out before it had been shipped!

I have to admit that I was surprised by this success, as I myself am not that much a fan of purple. In fact, I had only decided on this combination after Frauke had made a remark that she thought there wasn’t enough purple in my overall selection, which came at a time when I was just beginning to make plans for May. Because I knew I wasn’t going to have enough fabric left over to do purples after finishing a full collection, I put off my original plans for May until July and did purples. Several times have I been asked whether there were still packages of May available, although the website has been marked ‘sold out’. And now today’s double enquiry... which leaves me wondering - perhaps I should do a collection in-between? Not another purple for the subscribers, because, after all, they may feel similarly about purple like I do, and I wouldn’t want to tax their patience by inflicting another six shades of purple on them so soon after May. But perhaps as a special edition on the occasion of my first appearance with my fabrics at the OEQC festival in October in Veldhoven? I think I will decide that after the next market in Erding, in two weeks. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Progress, but slow.

Entertaining a nine-year-old during vacation is keeping me busy, so progress on that piece has been slow.
But steady, and I have finished the part with the drawn threads. It does look quite interesting.

And because another vacation activity is taking us out of town today, I have another day to think about how I will continue. Will I go across the drawn threads once, to keep them down, or will I take the risk...? How will I quilt the remaining dark blue section?

And then there is still no. 2, waiting... It's getting high time that these pieces be finished - I need to hand in the address list for the invitations, write an article for the newspaper, put together the list of quilts for the insurance... Lots of things that need to be done before an exhibition, even if that is still 7 weeks away.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Leaving it all behind...?

Yesterday I saw a report in the paper on a 35-yr-old woman who is getting ready to set off for a bike trip to New Zealand. That’s right: a bike trip TO New Zealand

She has sold all her belongings, is taking only a tent, bike tools and a few clothes, as much as will fit into a set of bike carry-alls, and is planning to cycle to New Zealand. From Munich. Her planned route is here: She will be leaving on September 1.
I admire her guts. I’m not sure I would like to cycle through Iran these days, a single woman. But then, come to think of it – is there any safer route right now – through Syria and Israel? Or down the African coast where all those vicious viruses are appearing? The heart of Africa?... She will be writing about her tour, which is also a charity event, on her website. Apparently, her reports will be in German.
This story reminded me of Sandy Robson, the woman who is kayaking from Ulm in Germany to Australia, and whom I hadn’t checked up on in a while. She is still at it, you can read her blog here, fighting floods in India right now.
I love things like that. And doesn’t everybody wish, every once in a while, that one were in another place, another kind of life than the one right now?
My biggest adventure in that direction of ‘leaving it all behind and going somewhere else’ was cycling through New Zealand entirely on my own, for two months, after I had finished my Ph.D. But even though I was at a difficult junction at that point, after the break-up of a relationship and not really knowing what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I had not given up everything at home, it was ‘just’ an extended vacation.

In the first picture I was on the boat to Queenstown, after I had arrived at the sheep station from the backside through the wilderness (unpaved roads) and was approached by three elderly ladies taking an outing who admired what I was doing, wished they had done something like that when they had been younger - I think, it was even one of them who took my picture.
Sometimes I like to think that had I not met my husband when I finally did at the advanced age of almost 36 I might have packed up and gone to NZ, due to my increasing unhappiness with my job at the university back then. But I had bought a grand piano even before I met my husband –that’s not something you just pack up and go to NZ with, on the other hand I don’t think I could easily have parted with it again relatively quickly after I got it. So probably this would not have happened, even if I had not met my husband, and all these musings are futile – what would life be like now if I had not done this and that back then? However, these thoughts do reappear every once in a while.
And it may happen while quilting... I’m still struggling with those two geometric pieces I wrote about earlier this week. I thought writing about it and publishing it on the blog would have a bit of the effect that Tom Sayer makes use of – when a wall is too high for you, throw a cap over it, and you will have to get over that wall to retrieve that cap, or you’ll be in trouble with Aunt Polly. But writing about my struggles with the quilting in these pieces hasn’t made it easier.
I did not start with no. 2 after all, but no. 3. I wanted to do something different than only straight lines – I might have mentioned that before? – partly because I did not want to have to spend hours sinking zillions of threads. I had the brilliant idea of trying this:

Pretty soon after I had started I realized that the idea was less than brilliant in many aspects. First, it doesn’t take less time than sinking zillions of threads. It is a rather lengthy and only moderately relaxing/meditative mode of quilting. Second, I have to be very careful so the drawn threads don’t pull the quilt together – but I am using my brand new embroidery frame for that, and so far it looks ok. Thirdly I will probably go over the inbetween parts of the drawn threads afterwards, to minimize the outside dangers. Too many things could get caught in them. But by the time I realized it all, I had already done more than made it possible to take even that little bit out and start another option. I woul d have had to discard the whole piece. I still may have to do that, who knows. But I won’t find out until it’s done. Yeah, such a great way to spend one’s time! Now if I had been in New Zealand in the first place...?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

And so this is.... summer?

I’ve been back from England since last Friday, after a delicious airplane breakfast.

It is summer vacation, supposed to be blazing hot, days spent at the swimming pool to channel a nine-year-old’s energies. But I have already worn woollen socks when going to bed three time since I returned, and it is only the second half of August! I even unpacked my down duvet one evening because it all felt so cold. The duvet turned out to be too hot yet during the night, but that doesn’t mean it feels any more like summer. Lots of showers, and cool temperatures. When I went walking in the woods day before yesterday I could distinctly smell ‘fall’. Somehow it doesn’t feel quite right – we didn’t have a real winter, spring was too early and not ‘right’, and now we are being cheated out of a summer, too. Well, then I would really like it to snow for good - I am almost out of snow-dyed fabrics, and a fair coming up in September... Here is a picture of a rare moment of sunshine.

No, I am not complaining.

I did get back to work pretty much immediately. With interruptions when we haven’t been able to arrange for friends of my son’s to come over, or for him to go there. But I am working. Right now I am quilting three tops which I sewed just before I left for England, and which are all three still destined for the exhibition in October. The three tops are all based on the same idea, which could be called an ‘amputated log cabin’ (only three sides in each round, and each of them a different width of log), with a slight variation between them in terms of arrangement, and of color. And they will be displayed in different orientations.

I pricked myself badly several times while quilting the first one, as I had talked myself into skipping the basting, just pinning it. Ruefully I basted the final two rounds before continuing to the end, these long Clover pins are soooo good and sharp!
For this top out of the three, I decided on rather dense parallel line quilting, which adjusted to the pattern a bit, and it took me longer, I think, to finish the quilting than to sew the entire top! 

I have done some unpicking, too, including having to get out the needle punches.

When I had finally finished quilting it yesterday morning I realized that the thread I used for basting – not a ‘proper’ basting thread, which I couldn’t find fast enough, but a polyester sewing thread – made for quite a nice effect under the quilting lines.

I certainly won’t leave these marks in this piece, but am curious as to whether and how I will make use of this interesting discovery in the future.

Two more to quilt, and as often I was debating with myself as to how to do this. Didn’t want to do the same kind of dense quilting in the other two – for one thing, because it took so long, but also because I want them to be markedly different despite the fact that they all three derived from basically the same idea. But I had enough time while basting no. 2, before I could have been pricked badly again, to give it some thought. Perhaps a little too much thought, because I almost discarded that one. I had the hardest time figuring out how to quilt it, suddenly I didn’t like it any more at all, and I had already folded it up and put it aside. Somehow it felt like it couldn't be saved, with that overpowering light blue in the lower corner...

Then I looked at no. 3, did a few test stitches on a cut-off piece from another quilt trying to figure out whether this idea won’t work – and retrieved no. 2, because finally an idea had arrived. That one will now be the next to be quilted after all.
Living by the quotation on the tin of tea I bought at the airport:

Friday, August 15, 2014

High Noon

1 - Caught in a web

2 - drugstore

3 - making ginger lemon tea despite the fact that it's August

4 - High Noon Five Minute Shower

5 - Landshut in the city

6 - marbles collection

7 - approaching Festival of Quilts, Birmingham

8 - Festival of Quilts, view from the restaurant in the back of the halls

9 - Festival of Quilts in full swing

10 - just a little blurred:
the CQ exhibition, with Jean Marshall after finishing stewarding

11 - road under construction in Ribbonden

12 - walking with Gillian and Jane

13 - remnants of the big Tour de France party

14 - walking along Rochdale canal

15 - getting ready for touchdown back in Central European Summer Time zone