Sunday, March 31, 2019

That very last minute.

(I started to write this post on Friday and then other stuff happened…)
screenshot from Instagram

It is Friday, and the school children’s demonstration for a more earnest dealing with the problem of climate change in Berlin is probably still on. First pictures have been posted already.

Greta posted a selfie on Instagram yesterday as she was traveling on the train. 

screenshot from Instagram

I had read somewhere that she had insisted her mother change her way of traveling for her career, i.e. that she give up flying, and when I heard that Greta was coming to Berlin I had wondered. Would she skip more than one day of school, or would she fly, or… But she seems to be very true to herself. What an admirable young woman!

I have been following this discussion about skipping school to demonstrate for action against climate change for a while. And my husband and I had a rather severe discussion about it last week, after the reports on demonstrations. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier have spoken up on behalf of the young people taking to the streets. Despite the fact that they are skipping school in order to do so.
Because – as is frequently the case with “public debates” in Germany when there is a lot of broohaw going on about a ‘topic’, but really they are talking about a side issue of complete unimportance  -  many self-declared very important people (read: old male f****s) are speaking up against the fact that these kids are skipping school. To protest. Now, that cannot be allowed or tolerated, no way! They should abide to law and order, and that means they have to go to school during school hours.

(This is where I continue writing on Sunday.)

What the important people are not writing about is the fact that these young people have an issue at hand, and that they have all the right in the world to demonstrate for their cause. Forty years ago some of the people speaking against the young demonstrators today might have been the ones who were demonstrating against atomic weapons and atomic energy. They surely would not have wanted to have their elders tell them what is right or wrong in their mode of demonstration, nor would they have listened.
Yet these old people are also the ones who usually complain that young people are not politically aware enough, that they only care about their digital world and social media – and here they are, they are going to the streets, they are telling us what they are afraid about. They are telling us that our way of living is not good for the environment, that it is endangering their – and everybody’s! – future. What is more important – the future of the planet, or a few school lessons they did not attend? Where are these young people going to learn more important things for life – in the class room, or on the streets in a political discussion and activity?

In our paper I read an article about a young man who started as tree-planting society when he was nine years old, and that organization is still going strong, has grown stronger even now through Greta and her actions. 

 So their voices can be heard, their actions are important. 
My hausband is completely against the fact that the children skip school for their demonstrations. However, he is also of the opinion that they should not be punished for this (at least principals in Bavaria are handing out severe reprimands against the students for any day missed, I am not sure how it is being dealt with in other federal states in Germany). I think it is fantastic that they are demonstrating – and I think, they are only being noticed at all BECAUSE they are striking during school time. If Greta had stood in front of the parliament building in Stockholm with a sign “hej, rättar klimatet!” in the afternoons, nobody would ever have listened. So this strike is only being talked about because it affects school hours, and it is talked about as if it were only a school strike as for e.g. cleaner streets. The people who are against these strikes are – at least in Germany – not talking about the issues being raised. They are not talking about the fact that carbondioxide emissions have risen, despite all our grand intentions. They are not talking about the fact that airline companies still don’t pay taxes for fuel, which keeps airtravel prices at an unjust advantage to any rail travel (where it exists as a viable option).
If I were a teacher in a German school right now – or in any country, it doesn’t matter – I would dedicate Friday’s lessons towards the topic of climate change, political empowerment, political opinion building, anything that could be used as a justification to go and take the kids to a demonstration. If I were a headmaster, I would order the whole teacher body at my school to do that. And if I were a politician with anything to say in a government, I would listen to the voices of these young people and stop whining about saving banks, multinational corporations or other unhealthy concoctions humans have come up with and take every action needed and possible in order to attempt saving it all in this last and latest minute that we still have.
At least sociologists have started looking at who these kids are – but does that lead to them being heard and taken seriously?

However, the heading for this post wasn’t meant to refer to a political statement, really. I had wanted to write about was how this past week I managed to finish a quilt in that very last minute… I think I will leave that for tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Good things take time…

As a former linguist, I have a special attraction to proverbs, coolocations and phrases in a language. In German we also say “Gut’ Ding will Weile haben”, which translates just about into ‘good things take time’ as I wrote at the top.

Four months. That is how long I have waited for this.

I own two spinning wheels, both from the New Zealand based wheel manufacturer Ashford. The traveling wheel, Joy 2, even is a souvenir from New Zealand which I brought back with me when I visited there the last time. It is practical for going out of the house when meeting friends for a spinning session, because it can be carried easily in a bag and folds up nicely. It has jumbo bobbins and is a one-drive. But my favorite is the Elisabeth 2, with a large wheel, and it just has a much nicer feel to it when sitting down to spin for a while.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, just when I had started spinning my advent calendar with spinning fibre, 

I had an idea how to increase the bobbin volume of my Elisabeth 2 wheel. Without having to change the flyer, that is, because I don't want it to have a jumbo flyer. The original bobbins for Elisabeth 2 are smaller and take about 100 g of spun fiber. I took a sample bobbin to a local carpenter and asked him whether it would be possible to make one that holds a larger amount of yarn, but still fits into the spindle, which the jumbo bobbins don’t.
He liked the idea, helped me with calculation and measurement, but he had to pass the order on to a colleague whom he works with on a regular basis for turned-wood items.
First, it took several weeks to get a price estimate. I had wanted to order 6 bobbins, to be prepared for everything. Not that I am planning on ever spinning a 6-ply yarn, but if you have two different 3-ply-projects going on… it is very similar to fabrics. You might need just the other one…
But when we received the price some time in late January it turned out that the price for six would not go down compared to the price for only a single one, so we agreed to order only a sample bobbin to begin with and figure out whether it will work.
It arrived today, and tonight we are meeting with our craft group, so I will get to try it out. Of course, it will be a while before I have a full bobbing to figure out whether the intention behind it all, namely that the enlarged sides will make it possible to wind more yarn safely, nor do I have a plying project waiting for me right now…
And I can’t take that wheel onto vacation with me. (I am going to Fuerteventury on Saturday.) But perhaps I will be able to tell pretty quickly. The carpenter hasn’t charged me yet, because he says we need to find out first whether ‘it works’. Which I thought was very kind of him, but certainly I don’t want to let him wait as long as I (or better: the two of us together) had to wait to begin with. But there is another saying in German: "Was lange währt, wird endlich gut." That which takes long to develop will turn out well in the end.

Sunday, March 17, 2019


It had been a while since I had been visited by the quilting mojo. That is certainly partly due to the fact that working and studying full time requires a different kind of time management, and there is a family, too, that asks for and needs to be given attention, and household chores and and and... Amongst all that it is difficult to find time to even start giving though to quilting ideas, and then those need to brew, but when too many things are going on that kind of silent simmering can't go on because the burner gets pushced too far into the back corner. No oxygen will get to it there.
Another factor that influences this situation, however, I attribute to the fact that my recent quilts had got to be rather political in their statements about refugees, human rights, etc. Although I feel very strongly about these issues, and these messages - and I would never want to miss the quilts that emerged from that - the political situation here has become so frustrating and disappointing that I might wonder what use there is in stitching messages like that on textiles. Twice within a year hopes for improvements in politics after an election were thwarted. Pre-election promises were null and void after the election, or, worse, the coalition that would have been necessary to initiate changes did not happen. So my personal frustration has grown tremendously, my political messages would now get too complicated or too outspoken. No use putting that on textiles, as it contradicts my own definition of how a viewer should be able to see a piece of art, or perceive a message. Namely: not too blatantly. The viewer must be able to fill a piece of art with a meaning that might be very different from my own, I must not run around with a flagpole and drive my intention into their heads with force and without alternative.
So similarly as at the point when I made number XXXIX in the Play of Lines series and when the line designs had become too difficult and complicated, my series text messages might be either at its end, or it must find a reorientation of which I don't know at the moment where it will go. If it ever comes.
But I was happily scrapping away. On all levels. A bit of scrappy sewing on the side while my workshop students did not need me.

Small scale Underground Railroad blocks from leftovers from my
hand-dyed fabrics.

Knitting socks with partly leftover yarns...

... and knitting a blanket with the smallest left-overs from sock knitting that won't last far
in socks even.

On a more serious side, I was trying to make something for a wonderful inspirational challenge by Claire Passmore with the 12 by the Dozen group, when she set Shamia Hassani as the inspiration for the February reveal. But as I stated on their blog - I had an idea, I came up with a bit of a design, and then time failed me and it has not been executed yet. (It might, in a larger scale than the 40 x 40 cm, but that will have to wait.) And I was struggling with a piece I had been invited to for a joint German - South Korean exhibition on the condition of partitioned countries. When I first received the inviation I was thrilled - it is a life story of mine, with a family that was split up East and West, a grandfather who fled from the Russian occupied zone in the early fifties, to be reunited with his wife and two of the three daughters after the East German uprising in 1953. But the topic turned out very personal, I could not get going. So I labored, thought I would do something with 'Germany' as a layover and an inset spiral from Germany's flag colors or so and put the two different layers together, and then the outlines of the country over it in reflecting fabric. (Now that I write it here, it is sooo obvious that there would have been too many layers of meaning, but at that point I did not see that.)

This would have been the ground area of Germany, representing
the partition of forty years.

Left over from an exercise in a Nancy Crow workshop long
ago, a piece in red and black could easily be turned into a
German colors piece by adding some 'golden' yellow.

All of it hard going, and not very convincing to myself even. How was this going to turn into a good quilt? Then I had put the spiral-to-be part together and was going to send a photo to Kathy Loomis and realized that the fabric that was supposed to be the inset spiral really looked like a flag by itself, at least a bit.

I chucked the spiral idea and for the first time in a long while had a bit of exhilaration about my quilting. Even would have preferred to stay home and work on it rather than going to my studies, but that was not possible.
I cut the outlines. That was relatively easy.

But this thing, cut from a flat piece of reflecting fabric, is everything but flat when you are trying to put it onto another flat piece of fabric.

It rather misbehaves and I am making a fool of myself as I am working on attaching these two to each other. Process is slow, and time is running fast. But it feels good to have something going on in that mojo part of working with textiles. We will see where it goes.