Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Pulling a plug

In April I came across the hashtag #temperaturequilt on Instagram and started one as well. Late for the year, and in typical Uta-fashion slightly overcomplicated. The half-square triangles for lowest and highest temperature of the day, that is pretty straight forward. But because the block I had chosen has more pieces, these needed to be filled as well. The additional triangles I chose to be the average temperatures of the four days represented by the four squares, again high and low, and the large triangles were the longterm average temperatures. Great idea – but required a lot of calculations. You can read here how I was faring with it along the way.
I fell behind, I caught up, and then I fell behind again. As the year is now coming to a close I have been seein nice photos of themperature quilts as people are nearing completion – I especially liked @flourishingpalms’ recent picture - and my heart was sinking. I knew I was never going to make it by the end of the year and I certainly did not want to take this project over into the next year. But I went ahead and started another catch-up. Then I realized that I must have made some mistake in the beginning in calculating how many blocks there were going to be. So I decided to just make the number of blocks I had come up with in the first place. Then I took a few liberties using up orphaned half triangle squares that were still lying around, but I kept to the averages in the single triangles and the large ones. 

Finished the number of blocks, started putting them together. And realized that there was never a clear idea about how big the final block was going to be, there would have been a lot of adjustments to make – or not matching points. 

And I was getting more and more annoyed with the result. Nice color combination, and it probably would have looked good if it had gone on to the end of the year with really getting into colder temperatures and different fabrics. But it is not my style of quilt and...
This afternoon I pulled the plug, I am not going to finish it, and I have already put the fabrics away, so there is no real way back. Also I am debating whether I will actually try a temperature quilt for next year. Having seen the results is impressive indeed, but in a way they all look similar in the end, and certainly making one is not going to increase my awareness about climate change and the resulting necessities in any way. I was considering making one where I would juxtapose two years, namely the coming year, where I live, and the year and place where I was born. But it seems impossible to get the data of daily temperatures without signing up and paying for some weather service (and I don’t even know whether they will actually be able to supply the data). I was talking to my husband about that and he thought I was completely nuts, “and what are you trying to show, isn’t this overly ideological?” So I am undecided as of yet.

I also called a finish to another project which, however, is at a slightly better stage and can be entered in a challenge in a couple of weeks, all it needs is the closing of one seam right now and photos taken.

And I have decided to change plans with yet another piece that’s on the design wall. 

I had intended to enter it in Australia, but am finding it extremely difficult to fit the pieces into the required size of 90 x 90 cm. 

So I will not enter, just let it have the size it wants to, and then we will see how it develops.

I am a bit at a loss with my quiltmaking. With the change in my life that leaves me little time for creativity, the lfow is gone. I was aware that would happen, but it is a bit sad to feel it now. Although I did have an idea this morning – which I might pursue. Perhaps that was the motivation behind these decisions this afternoon, ge things out of the way…?
Merry Christmas to you all.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Being part of history...

Last April I posted about how I finished a quilt for the German-Korean joint exhibition about the experience of living in a divided country. (Read here.) The exhibition has been shown in several different places by now, has been invited to Ste. Marie-aux-Mines next September, and is waiting for a verdict on whether it will be shown in Houston. When I was making my quilt, I was struggling with my family's and my personal involvement in history by having lived through some of the times I represented in the quilt. My aunt, who lived all her yound and working life under dictatorship, first the Nazis, then 'Socialism', and only a few years in 'freedom', after she was retired. My memories, how my mother always was preparing some package for relatives and friends, marking it as 'presents, no commercial value', taking care not to include printed matter, records or cassette tapes, or jeans. How on November 9, 1989 suddenly a room mate of my then fiancée ran through the apartment and shouted 'They are opening the wall!' and nobody dared believe it, after weeks of rising fear and insecurity with regard to how the East German government would react towards the rising numbers of protesters in the Monday marches, demanding change.
So there was a lot of broohaw about 30-years-end-of-the-Wall this past November. Speeches, self-praisal, groups of youn people from abroad being shipped to Berlin to participate in some events to commemorate the happenings then.
Ever since it happened I have been unhappy with how the even in 1989 has overtaken that specific date. Yes, it certainly was an important date, I would never contradict that. But there were other important things that happened on or around November 9 in German history in the 20th century - it seems unfair that the fall of the Wall is the one which receives most attention nowadays.
End of World War I. The 1938 progroms against Jews (link in German, link in English). The first attempted attack on Hitler in 1939 by Georg Elser (link in German, link in English), which had an 80th anniversary and was mentioned much less. These, of course, I have not lived through. But somehow they always affected me, because we were living in the aftermaths of what Nazi-history had done to my country. My son, now a sound 14 years old, had not been born in 1989 and has a very distant relationship to that part of history, as he told me recently. He has read The Diary of Anne Frank, but different from my own experience many years ago, it was 'just another story' for him. And 'I was not even on your horizon when the Wall came down, and then it is 30th anniversary and what does that mean to me?'
Those were interesting conversations we had, and he is right in a way. It is not the kind of history he has lived through. And obviously school and our family narratives have not given him the feeling of connectedness and enough context to put things into perspective.
I do hope our exhibition gets accepted for Houston, and I do hope I get to go, because it will be really interesting to be there and talk to people about it.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Little escap(ad)e: Frankfurt with my family

In the end of October my family took a three-day-outing to Frankfurt. We had wanted to go to Berlin originally, but since the Berlin Basketball team did not have a home game that weekend and a visit to a game was a precondition for the trip (for the 14-yr-old), we ended up in Frankfurt.

It was much colder when we arrived than had been predicted, and it rained, which had not been predicted either, I was absolutely not prepared for this, and so the first thing we did was buy an umbrella. 

Not that we don’t have an abundance of umbrellas at home, but it was cheaper to buy an umbrella than to buy yet another rain jacket. Of which I have a few more at home than one actually needs, too, and I am determined not to buy any more rain jackets in the next 20 years. Or unless all the ones I have already have been worn out.
Anyway – I had said I wanted to go see the Paulskirche, (link in English here) one of THE important places in context of the beginnings of a process of German unification (the Parliament of the Paulskirche in 1848, which led to the foundation of a German unified state in 1871) and which I had never been to before. On the first afternoon we stood in front of closed doors because the site was not open on November 1, but when we went in the next day (mildly coaxing a slightly less than interested 14-year-old) it turned out to be quite a disappointment. I could not believe the shabbiness of the presentations, the outdatedness of the whole appearance and could not blame my son for not developing a lot more interest for the site than he had shown before the visit. 

View of the conference hall today - nothing like what it used to look like
when the 1848 parliament was in session.

With all the broohaw going on these days about 30 years of German Re-unification and how happy are we that this took place (brushing over the many problems we have nowadays which arise from the mis-conducted annexation that it really was) I was appalled that there had not been put any seriouis thought into updating the presentation at this particular site.In terms of the importance in the development of German history this place is probably more important than the Wall. But the events along the Wall of course bear much more drama.

This is what Paulskirche looked like right after WWII.

My husband and I also went to the Museum of Communication, which used to be the Musem of the Postal Service. They still have a bit of that connection in their display of the evolution of mail boxes from different ages. It made me think about how much our mode of communication has changed over the years. I still like to write letters, and to receive them. But how many people actually still do write letters? And how often does one receive a letter in comparison to bills? And how often do we communicate digitally in comparison...?

On presentation a small display on spinning.

And a rather techonological section where artworks were being created by the visitors as they were moving and these movements were being caught by cameras and then transformed into changing arrangements of small wooden slabs or shadow dancers or creepy figures. Couldn't be captured well in a picture and unfortunately I don't seem to be able to upload the small video from my cell phone, so you just have to take my word for it.

They also had a fun art exhibit standing around: a herd of sheep made from the cables that used to connect the receiver to the phones, way back then when phones were still cabled and not mobile or smart.

Including a black sheep, outside the fence. 

That made me think a lot about that saying about a black sheep of the family. How many people are out there who for whatever reason have been marked as that black sheep of a family, and what kind of interactions that may have caused, the wounds it may have wrought, and yet that would not have been necessary because there is no ‘normal’ anyway and do we really all need to be looking (and acting) the same…?

P.S. I wrote most of this post four weeks ago on my way back from Friedrichshafen on the train. And then just never got around to posting. And have been writing posts in my head, probably four or five of them, and yet. Work was busy, creativity a bit on the reduced side (mainly knitting) and November is just not one of my good months anyway. Hoping I will get back into the swing soon.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

'Nadelwelt' in Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance

The past three days I have been ‘on the road’ to do a bit of demonstrating on the booth of Handiquilter at Nadelwelt Friedrichshafen. 

This was the first time that Nadelwelt took place in Friedrichshafen, and I probably wouldn’t have gone there if I had not been asked to do this demonstration. I was wondering what the organizers want by putting on another, second show in the year, not exactly far away from Karlsruhe. And there are other fairs sort of in the area throughout the year that are trying to fish in the same pond of ‘crafts’. Just how many fairs do they want to put up in the area?
If I still were selling my fabrics, I am not certain I would have gone with a booth, either. As a vendor, there are always so many different aspects to consider and calculate, such as travel costs, accomodation, the rent for a booth space… But it was interesting to be there. And very nice to be there as a member of a team, not a solitary vendor who has to figure out when it will be possible to slip out to use the ladies’ room…
I did not take a lot of pictures, in fact, hardly any at all.

But in the end I was glad to have been there.
The quilt exhibitions were partly a repeat of exhibits from the Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe in spring, but since I had not been there what I got to see was new enough to me to be worth looking at.
And I really did like the exhibition of the two Spanish sisters who figure as Desedamas. I go to use my Spanish as Mercé was explaining to me how they got their inspiration from dishes served in a restaurant (Cécilia) or drinks served in the same restaurant (Mercé), and how they spent over a year working towards this exhibition.

Mercé on the left with one of her drinks, and
Cécilia on the rigth with one of her dishes...

A view into their exhibition

Another 'drink' quilt by Mercé - unfortunately I did not take note of the title.

Formatges alb Melmelades by Cécilia

 The vendors area was spacey and not too hot at all. It seemed the organizers are trying to put a different focus on what is for sale because there were a lot more vendors aiming for the general sewing public, knitting was also a focus, practically nothing about spinning (except for volunteers from the Handspinngilde demonstrating the craft), and other handicrafts that require needles were a bit underrepresented as well.
And what was really touching is that a few people who saw me at the Handiquilter booth stopped to ask me where my fabrics were, they had thought I might be selling... It felt good to hear about the appreciation for what I had done, but nevertheless I was quite satisfied that I was not there as a vendor of fabrics!
I tried to keep strict to myself about buying, as I have been throughout most of the year. But I could not keep entirely clear. I bought new threads for the longarm to try out (that’s ok, I am not on a thread diet for that), a piece of fabric with Frida Kahlo (which is jersey and has to be underlaid before I can use it for any kind of piecing and I don’t have a plan for it yet anyway) 

and a few – oh no! –balls of yarn for knitting. Not many, but definitely a defeat regarding my yarn diet for the year. But Sockenmaufaktur was there, and she carries a whole range of wonderful yarns, she paired up for my knit-along and offered people who ordered or bought yarn with her for this project a discount when I ran it, and so I caved in with a light heart. It’s always possible to start a new year of yarn diet tomorrow.