Saturday, October 29, 2016

Am I being creative or what?

It's been a very busy week, and I did not get time to post anything here. Now my husband and son are gone for the weekend for what was supposed to be a workshop where they would have built yet another large drum (of which we already have two, that hardly ever get played, add to that my son's drum set, xyolophone... we have a battery of percussive instruments in the house). However, the workshop teacher messed up their announced intention of building the drum, now they are building something rather different and which is certainly not anything we were planning on - but the good side of it all is that I have a weekend to myself.
It started off with a delicious Syrian meal. The one  token Syrian refugee whom I have been teaching German to for one and a half years has recently added a friend of his to our class meetings, who is just as much a token language learner as he himself. Suddenly I am being asked about and get to explain complex sentence structures that resemble diagrams which my former students at university level had difficulties understanding and would never have asked about on their own accord and that definitely many Germans would never think about! So we have been having interesting meetings, and the two of them decided they would cook for me.

Briefly I had thought about joining the SAQA regional UK-meeting which is taking place near Manchester today, but instead I decided I would not spend the money on the flights for just a short weekend, so the result is I actually have time to get work done. Somewhat surprisingly, I have actually been getting work done since I took up the teaching job, but at present it is nitty bitty going, catching up with preparations for International Thread's upcoming exhibition and not yet really something worth showing. But it seems that whenever time is less easily available time management is just so much more effective...

However - I am not a tidy person. Proof to be seen here:

 And no, I am not procrastinating by tidying up, but sometimes I wish I were more of a tidy person because then the creative searching might take less time.
In any case, I am working on a wholecloth longarm project for an article which I have been asked to write for the German magazine Patchwork Professional. The article is on how to effectively use my snow-dyed fabrics, I have finished the first piece, which is on how wonderful snow-dyed fabrics add to traditional patterns, and the second piece now is about a modern interpretation. I admit, this one I have been putting off a bit, but yesterday I finally got myself a photo printed at the drugstore and started on a bit of planning.

And now it's time to put it on the longarm and get started...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Operation rescue

In September I received a commission to save a much beloved slightly older quilt. Not really antique, the owner had bought it new about 25 or 30 years ago, and really used and loved it.
The fabric on the back was worn thin, and ripped at the seam.

The frontside has a nice traditionally executed Log Cabin Design, and it was tied – luckily! I don’t know which kind of memories are connected to this quilt, but it must mean a lot to the owner, because he had no hesitations when we did an approximate calculation of the costs that would arise. Those costs wouldn’t quite get him a new one, but it does give an indication what a special kind of quilt this must be to him.
He bought a grey print fabric for the new back, but was also considerate to choose one of my hand-dyed fabrics as well and suggested that I include that into the new back accroding to my decision. It was a 60-cm-piece, so something had to be done with it, and eventually I cut large squares, which were then set off from each other, mostly in one half of the back.

At first I took out the ties and removed the back.

At that point I realized that the fabric was ripped not only at the seam, but also at the points where the ties had been attached. Originally we had thought it would be possible to use the old back fabric for a new binding, in double or tripler layers, to hold on to the original look as much as possible, but with holes like this I took the liberty to decided that it needed a new fabric for the binding as well.

It also turned out that the patched front was rather faded, so I first checked back with the owner whether he had realized the degree of fading, whether he still wanted me to continue. He gave the ‘go’ signal, 

I put the quilt onto the longarm – and at that point I was beginning to feel nervous. It seemed rather parallel to my own experience with my teddy bear, which has been with me since I was less than half a year old. 
This is not the very first baby picture in which the teddy bear appears,
there is another one perhaps a couple of weeks earlier. But this is the first one in
which the teddy bear is in full view.

At some point in my life this teddy bear had assumed a rather haggard look, lost much of its stuffing, and one eye as well, so I took it to be repaired. After that it not only did not look familiar anymore, but it also had a crossed eye. That in particular hadn’t been obvious to me when the repair person and I talked about a substitute eye, which was of a different make but had seemed similar enough in appearance and direction to justify being used. 

Simply turning one of the eyes does not rectify the situation. Probably
another serious operation would be necessary, but I am not sure
 the teddy bear wants to have that done...

I didn’t complain when I picked up the teddy bear, but it took a long time for me to fully embrace this teddy bear again. And that experience now gave me hesitations before I started quilting this quilt, which, after all, hadn’t been quilted before.

I decided to keep the pattern simple, no swirls and overabundant curves, just picking up of the barn raising design with a bit of oval shapes, and straight lines in the borders.

And then the binding, for which I chose another small piece from my stash, matching in color in patchwork style – close, close enough, but not entirely the same, which was not possible.

I finished the binding yesterday evening and the owner will come and pick it up on the weekend. I am determined not to get nervous about how he likes the old teddy bear in its renovated appearance...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Don't worry, be happy...

When that song came out for the first time, I thought it was just such a stupid song. But I have since come to appreciate it's message. Which is well illustrated in my experiences yesterday and today. 

Yesterday morning I had a terrible time. I had to sort and organize my papers and receipts for today’s appointment with the tax advisor, and for me that is definitely an item very far towards the bottom of the list of preferable activities. Worse than going to the dentist, I would say. Especially because there is always one slip of paper from the health insurance company which must be presented and somehow is never there where it should be – because, I admit, I am not good at filing things properly. Despite my good intentions, which get rekindled every year afther this particular painful and heart-rending situation. “This year I will file properly...” is what I say when I come out of the tax advisor’s office. I was lucky, because after I had been out in the afternoon, taking a ride on the bike on a wonderfully sunny and pleasant autumn-day, to get away from it all, 

I found that slip of paper yesterday, and even before I had sat down to request a second copy from the health insurance company! After that it all was just a piece of cake.

During the search I also found something which I had been looking for since I began teaching the refugees in September: a bag full of dice, which is good for a few minutes of relaxation in class to practice numbers. So I could use that in class today, very handy.

The real good news of the day, however, was, that the tax advisor could relieve my worries about how the teaching, for which I am indeed getting paid, and the fabric club go together in terms of taxation. Of course it would have made a lot of sense to find out about that before I agreed to the teaching, or at least before it started. Certainly would have saved me a few weeks of gnawing doubt whether I was doing the right thing. In any case, we solved the problem, getting paid and having to pay taxes for the teaching does not interfere with the particular set-up of the fabric club and fabric dyeing business, and all is well. I might go down into the basement tonight and dye some black and browns in celebration of this good outcome of the day!

Friday, October 14, 2016

„Schräge Vögel“ – Crazy Birds

Six weeks ago, when my family was visiting with my parents, we also went to the zoo in Karlsruhe. My son still likes going to the zoo, he hasn’t outgrown that yet, 

I love the hairstyle...

but the main reason for going really was that the zoo has a new attraction. Which is connected with my past. I used to be a competitive swimmer, and for quite a while the club that I belonged to had their swim practice in a pool right next to the zoo. A fe years ago that pool was closed down – and has since been refurbished and turned into a site that was integrated into the zoo, now housing exotic animals – birds, turtles and the like.
It was a bit weird to walk through that building, which hasn’t really been changed THAt much: you can still recognize the 10-m-dive tower, and even the wall decorations in the area for the children’s basin hasn’t been taken down.

This is were I learned how to swim. Now there be turtles!
As we were walking through the exotic plants and listening to some of the birds, even watching a sloth, 

I noticed some strange birds inbetween the plants.

And some more.

As I was taking pictures, a man started talking to me, and it turned out that he had made these birds from drift wood and scrap metal, that he was just in the process of placing these little sculptures all over the premises, and that it was going to be an exhibition, officially starting the next day. In a way a 'shop window exhibit', definitely an unusual place, very well suited for unusual pieces!

The artist’s name is Axel Birgin, and you can find his website (in German) here.

The exhibition is not on any longer – I just did not get around to writing something about it until now – but I keep thinking about these crazy birds. It remeinded me of a particular beach I visited during my first trip to New Zealand, on the West Coast below Haast Pass. I was there just before sunset, the whole beach was aglow with the last hour of sunlight during the day, very intensive coloring, just a magic hour. 

There was lots of driftwood there, and if I hadn’t been on a bike, I would have packed up the whole beach, or at least as much as possible. Even back then, long before I ever thought of making textile art, these pieces of drift wood were beckoning to me to do something with them. The only piece I took and then carried in my bags for the next three weeks still is with me today.

And it still is – perhaps a good enough reason to go back! (And yes, I just can’t believe it’s already been almost one full year since I left for my trip last year...)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

SAQA Benefit Auction - It seems mine sold...

I haven't received an official information yet, but I saw on the SAQA website that my donated quilt had a red line around it, which supposedly says that it sold. So I am happy, and as far as I could tell that was not on the last day of the section, which makes me even happier. It's good to sell, but you also want the thing to raise more than just the minimum amount...
The week's been very busy, getting used to my new schedule and the time constraints involved with that. But I just love the fact that it takes less than ten minutes on the bike to get from home to my work place. And just over ten if I have to walk, in case it's raining. The class is a nice bunch of people, they are very eager to learn - they know that this is a very important chance for them, and want to make the best of it. So despite the fact that keeping all 23 of them happy and entertained is challenging due to the fact that some of them are much further advanced in their knowledge of German than the others, it is a very interesting and rewarding way of working.
And even though I did not have time to make art, I did get a bit of sewing done for the article I am writing for the German magazine Patchwork Professional.
I finished off my personal version of the knit-along that I staged to raise money for a children's project, and even got my husband to take a picture of the finished piece (second picture below).

At this stage, I was still working on it, but had already used it's comforting characteristics once: When I was coming back from Ste. Marie-aux-Mines on the train, the compartment was so cool that I reall needed some extra warmth, So I wrapped one piece of it around my shoulders to keep me warm while I was still knitting on the other side.
Now this is the finished piece (and I am quite proud that I managed to raise € 900 with more than 40 people knitting along - or at least buying the pattern, not all of them have started yet...):

Weather turned cold and unpleasant, too, so it has been of good use already - and overall it's been a pretty good week so far!

Saturday, October 1, 2016