Monday, January 18, 2021

Third extension? ... and third completion...

 According to media and rumors and whatever we will most likely go into yet another extension of lockdown, possible even stricter still, although that is very hard to imagine. We are supposed to know by Tuesday night. It is getting very difficult to bear. My husband said he listened to an interview with a socio-psychologist on the radio this morning, and that person lamented that at this stage it is only virologists who are involved in advising politicians. Nobody is talking to sociologists, psychologists, and (psychological) long-term effects on the people who are being locked up are not being taken into account. That is what I mean when I say “what is this going to do to all of us?” How do we calculate longterm effects in comparison to shutdown of shops?  I try to reach out to friends by phone, catching up with them, chatting about what is, and what did not happen. But it is getting more and more difficult to keep spirits up.

And I try to keep myself busy – besides studying for my home schooling and ultimately for my exam. Therefore I can now announce the third finish of the year. Third? you say. Yes, there was a second finish which I wont talk about right now but will show here later. And this third one, too, you will not get to see in full completion yet, either, (although there was a photo of the finished top in this post) because it will be revealed in mid-March as a sort of sew-along for members of the German Patchwork Guild. We have our next issue of the magazine coming out then, and that will include an article on how fascination with one specific block can drive one to unknown lengths.  Parallel to that, the instructions will be published for members of the Guild on the website, and we will be hosting a ‘sew along’ for several weeks on facebook. 

The backside


So after taking it off the longarm the other day – having had a bit of tension problems and not too much fun with the quilting process! - 


I had to finish the binding in order to be able to get a decent photo for publication in the magazine.

First it was the question whether I would use a white or blue binding. I thought white might have looked more sophisticated and design-y, but as this is a blanket and is supposed to be used as such I figured it’s bad enough that the whole quilt has a lot of white, including the back. And edges in white will probably get dirty even faster than the rest of the quilt. In the end I settled for a blue binding, because I still have some of the blue fabric that appears in blocks of the quilt repeatedly. And as it turns out, the binding is so narrow, it doesn’t really make much of an appearance. 

I also used this occasion to try out whether I like preparing the binding with the little plastic clips that are available now (and of which I have quite a few). I don't use pins for attaching the strip to the backside of the quilt sandwich, but pinning it over to the front does take time, and it was at least worth the try.

Fact is, however, that I don't like the feel of it, I find the distorsion of the quilt sandwich by the raising
through the clips more annyoing than spending the time pinning. Taking out the pins while slowly getting closer to the presser foot is easier than taking off the clips, I think, so I will stick with my tried and tested method of pinning. But it is good to know this. And there are ample other possibilities for using these clips.

It was a good choice to take the blue binding. I like the result. Looking forward to the sew-along. I have never been the ‘host’ for something like that, and it really is not characteristic for me to be doing that. But then writing instructions isn’t characteristic for me, either, and it happened. The virus causes a lot of strange things to happen.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

A 120th birthday memory

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading “Diary of an ordinary woman” by Margaret Forster. It is a story which had been initiated by an elderly woman’s call who offered that M. Forster ‘take a look’ at the diaries she had been keeping all her life and ‘make something of it’. The main character in the book was supposedly born in 1901. The same year as my maternal grandmother. And although the story told in that book had only few parallels to my grandmother’s life, it made me think about her a lot recently.

She was born a bit prematurely on the 14th of January in 1901. Today would have been her 120th birthday, and it awes me thinking about the span we cover, assuming I still have an average of about 30 more years to live, which adds up to 150 years. This picture shows her as a little girl. 


She was her parents’ only child and in fact the only grandchild from a set of five brothers on her father’s side, so I think she must have been pretty spoilt. Her father was the mayor in a small north German town, and the local museum in that town still has a room dedicated to his years as mayor.

She graduated from High School which was not common for girls at that time, and she claims she wanted to go to university to study mathematics, but that did not happen. I am not sure whether that was due to the fact that liberties her father would allow her did not reach quite that far, or whether it was due to financial reasons, after all, the 1920s were not always economically easy in Germany. But she came from a family well off, I would assume it would have been possible to make it happen if she had been really adamant about it? I don’t remember her talking about the time of the Spanish Flu, but she did survive a very difficult appendix surgery and had a remarkable scar on her right lower side to show for that. She got married, gave birth to four daughters the first of which died right at birth because the midwife and doctor (who was drunk) did not arrive in time and the baby suffocated from the placenta – that’s the story. My mother was the youngest. After World War II when she found herself in Soviet Occupation Zone it took her quite a while to realize that things weren’t ‘going to get better again soon’ and that the houses she owned in two different cities did not make her a favorite of the socialist government. My grandfather ‘went West’ in 1952 by swimming through a small river that marked the boundary between Soviet and British occupied zone after having been warned that he might be arrested soon, she stayed behind with the girls. After the uprising of 1953, however, she took advantage of an opportunity for ‘family reunification’ and followed her husband across the border with the two younger girls. The eldest had been married by then and stayed behind. My grandmother then taught handicraft and protestant religion in school to supplement their income.

Here is a picture of her holding me at the age of approximately 10 weeks. Look at that jacket she is wearing – she had bought it in Norway on a holiday, and it will reappear in just a moment.


She baked the best waffles in the whole world and her packages in which she would send us home-made waffles were a reason to celebrate each and every time. My siblings and I loved those waffles. Despite the fact that we have her recipe, however, my own never tasted the same, and I think it must partly be because she was not using an electric waffle iron.

She taught me how to knit, and perhaps to crochet, too. I remember how I received a hand-wound ball of yarn with a set of red (!) knitting needles and little goodies were wound into the ball to keep me going. The yarn squeaked a bit, probably poly-something, my sweaty hands of inaptitude, but I kept going because I wanted to know what would show up next.

Later, when she was ageing and had worn that Norwegian jacket down to the last thread my mother and I went into a joint venture and reproduced that jacket in almost the same colouring. My mother took the pattern and knitted the sleeves. I made the bodice and the shoulder part after joining the sleeves to the bodice. Because we knitted differently in tension the jacket looked a bit awkward at first, but it somehow evened out after a while. I think she wore that jacket almost every day for the rest of her life. 


Now that I think of it, though, I am not sure she really enjoyed knitting or mending. Otherwise she might have made herself a jacket like that? She did make me a pair of wrist warmers when I asked her, but she wasn’t one who was flooding the family with hand-knitted socks or sweaters. But she got me started on the road to fibre work and my absolute love of it. But would my pieces find her approval? Who knows...

She did tell stories from her life, but for the last years of her life she was suffering from dementia, and although I remember some of them I am afraid many of her stories are lost. I wish she had kept a diary. And that I could read it, that I had asked more questions. She passed away in 1986.



Sunday, January 10, 2021

Friday, January 8, 2021

Lockdown, extended

 A few days ago already media (politicians quoted in media) were talking about the fact that most likely our lockdown would be extended. Numbers of infections were considered unreliable because all those holidays, assumption of reduced testing, laboratories not working at full speed, the Robert-Koch-Institut neither... and by now the fact has been completed. At least until the end of this month, no shops open, no restaurants, no schooling in person. Even if one has been expecting it – it is getting hard to bear! I look at my penned up 15-yr-old who is denied his basketball practice, who may not meet his friends in person, while ‘Professional Sports’ is allowed to continue. A lot of money involved. But what is this being holed up in homes without sufficient contact doing to this generation? What will be the psychological price they will have to pay in the future?

We had reports about too many people trying to get outside between Christmas and the New Year, hitting the mountains, sledding slopes, even just going for walks. Not enough distance, not enough care taken to avoid infection. And by now, as post-holidays work schedules are being resumed, we see that numbers are indeed still rising.

Working in ER over the holidays was strange because for a large part of my scheduled shifts the hospital was not taking any ‘regular’ emergency cases due to an outbreak of corona amongst staff on one ward, which resulted in the closure of the ward, and the intensive care unit was full. So it was boring – but perhaps better than the complete catastrophe?

Vaccination for staff of the hospital started on Monday – but nursing students were not considered worthy of being put on the list. Which really pisses me off. There are quite a few things already that make me consider seriously whether I would or will apply for a position in this hospital... although I assume it is not much better in any other hospital, and this one has the definite advantage that my ‘commute’ to work of either 5 minutes by bike or approximately 11 minutes when walking is so very convenient. But ... nothing has been decided yet.

I did a lot of spinning and knitting. My first finish of the year happened on January 1 when I got to spend a few hours with my knitting and completed the yoke sweater from hand-spun yarn I had been working on for a few weeks and mentioned in my last post. 


However, although I announced differently I will not start on a new knitting project right now, despite the fact that my fingers are itching and I have swatched several options and could start at least three or four different ones. I have decided to finish some more UFOs first before I allow myself another cast-on. After all, there are several quilts still waiting to be finished, and several other knitting projects as well. So I took out my pieces for a “Freewheeling Single Girl” made with templates by Denyse Schmidt which had stalled a while ago, and continued with those, a bit mindlessly sewing just to keep busy. I actually like what is happening. I am cutting up a number of workshop samples that have accumulated over years, never were thrown out, but never developed into anything either. At least that part of the stash is being recuced a bit.

Cutting up a stalled/faltered project which is completely
'not my colors' and won't ever go anywhere unless I do
something dramatic to it.

In progress. It will be larger.

We have had snow. For the first time in several years. I think we have not had this much snow since before I stopped my business for hand-dyed fabrics, because I remember my stash of snow-dyed fabrics was dwindling when I decided to stop the business. When I was awoken by our new neighbors' boys shoveling snow on January 6 at 7 a.m. I fondly remembered how a snowfall would put me into action. I would have prepared several pieces of fabric by soaking them in soda and dried them off and I would be as eager to do a bit of snow shoveling as these young boys to make sure I got enough snow to fill several boxes and set them to drip-melt... I was getting rather nostalgic about this even, but then later on during the day I also was relieved that I could just enjoy the snow on my walk and did not have to work the boxes, washing machine etc. 


In addition, I have no pfd-fabric in the house right now, and at the moment I am not planning on getting any, either. Use up more of what is there first!