Monday, September 28, 2009

Memorizing a 100th birthday

What good is an iron gate on the cemetary entrance? Nobody wants to get in, nobody can get out. -- Today, my husband's family went to the cemetary to remember my husband's grandmother whose 100th birthday would have been today. She used to have a special kind of humor which she may have applied from another world. My f-i-l's car was locked behind an iron gate when we came back. It had been closed in our absence, and nobody could be found to unlock the gate. Our cousin tried to find anyone in charge by making calls on the phone -- no result. Granny must have had a laugh on her angel's cloud. Cemetary workers with their truck came by coincident and had a key. So we could go and have coffee.

I promised a few more pictures from yesterday's trip to Schleswig. Here they are! A damaged medieval lion on the cathedral wall outside. A dome interior. Another interior. A leftover from the old monastery buildings: A stone head, maybe a king.
Sailing boats on the river Schlei, more a kind of baltic sea fjord. A door with a dutch wooden shoe.

The Schlei is a postglacial melting river. The town was built as a follower of the nearby situated and later abandoned Haithabu/Haddeby/Hedeby, a Viking settling of great importance. The evidence of trade with Greece and Sweden was found by archeologists. Also Schleswig was a harbour of some importance, but as in the 14th century, larger boats were built, the harbour was not deep enough. So the town lost its importance.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A perfect day

What a wonderful trip we made today. We voted for a new government and then went to a small town north of Hamburg, a 90 minutes ride. There is an exhibition of modern art in the castle of Schleswig (PDF), and we enjoyed Picasso, Bracque, Klee, Chagall, Beckmann, Miro and a few more -- the so called K20 exhibition from Duesseldorf. It took place in a side building of the castle. After this, we went into town to have lunch, then we took a walk. Schleswig is a cute little town with a wonderful cathedral, partly medieval. And it has a romantic quarter from 17./18th century.

I'll show more tomorrow, the husband has been working late, he helps me with my website jobs because he is out of work now. -- The conservative and the liberals will be forming our next government, boohoo.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Can't sleep

Civilisation makes me sick. Yet, I need it. I'm spending more time in front of the computer because of web design jobs. So there is not much needlework I can show.
There is a high tone in my left ear (the better one) which keeps me from sleeping or wakes me up very early, recently before 4 in the morning. It seems to be different from a normal acoustic tone. It penetrates earplugs and cushions. But it is not a tinnitus; this one is in my right ear, I know it and it doesn't disturb me much. I seem to "hear" electromagnetic waves. There must be a new device in the house. I think I'll have to write to my neighbours (can't talk to all of them) and ask them to really switch off all W-Lan computers and cordless phones during the night. Today I woke up after 7 hours of sleep, hurray, that's a lot. The tone kept me awake the night before. I'm keeping a diary to find a pattern.
I heard about the Taos Hum. I can hear something similar, but I got used to it. But this is new and very annoying.
Good night, wish me good sleep.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More things, seen on our walk

Yesterday, I didn't have enough time to post all the photos I was meant to show to my blogging friends. I took a few for aesthetic reasons.

The rust pictures with the marine structures and the grill in the sunshine, for example.
I took this pic before I saw a very similar one on Rayna's blog.

Then, there was this iron angel from a 19th century house and another iron ornament from a front column.
This was near one of the houses which had been taken by squatters who prevented them from being pulled down and renovated them.

Hamburg has always been very busy breaking down old houses. They started in 1902 to pull complete quarters in consequence of the cholera epidemie of 1892.

The squatters were engaged in heavy fights with the police, until in 1987, the lord mayor of Hamburg arbitrated between the parties. Since then, most squatters have had renting contracts. The banderole hanging from the house says: "Shut up, Germany!"
The red bikes can be rented by paying a fee via mobile phone.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Squirrel in the morning, Labskaus for lunch

This was our 3rd wedding anniversary. In the morning, I observed this squirrel, as he collected hazelnuts under a bush and hid them. Then he skipped away like a rocking horse, obviously proud of himself.

In the morning, J went to the employment office to hand in his application; this was done soon, and we met in town. We went to the harbour to enjoy the sunshine.

We were getting hungry and had a meal in a very traditional restaurant.
The meal I had is called Labskaus. It is a sailors' meal, made of potatoes, corned beef, an egg, a herring, red beet and sour cucumbers. Looks awful, tastes very nice. J had 3 kinds of fried fish and fried potato.

Then we strolled on to a portuguese café and had a nice cake with candied fruit inside and a very mild chai. Too mild, if you ask me.
This was a lovely day with my sweetheart J.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Living with quilts

As I mentioned before, quilting doesn't have a tradition in my home country, we don't even have a German word for it. We say "patchwork", or the more modern quilters say "quilten" as a verb.
When my husband and I first met, we also talked about art, and he told me that he was into Kandinsky and the Bauhaus movement. He inspired me to find out more, and I started thinking about "form follows function". I decided that I would abstain from mere decoration in favour of useful things.
Of course, this is up to everyone to decide for herself!
This is one of the reasons for me to try and make a bed quilt.
As soon as my bird quilt was large enough that I could sleep under it, I noticed that my sleep was better.
Did you have this experience, too?
I found out that it seems to balance temperature better than the expensive bought quilt with innovative fiber which rather tends to overheating my postmenopautic body.
It will take me some more time to finish it, add a backing fabric (I found one, it is a turkish bedcover with huge roses), do the basting and binding, and I'm rather exited whether I will manage such a big project or miserably fail.
I'm not planning a batting, because I appreciate the light quality of my quilt.
When it is done, I plan one for my husband. In the bauhaus style, inspired by the weaver Gunta Stoelzl.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lovely batik scraps

From Chris Gray, I received a parcel with wonderful small batik pieces.
They are so beautiful that I wrote to Chris, I have inhibitions to cut into them, but she wrote back: "just get the scissors and go for it!"

Okay. I started with korak tiles which I can arrange and connect in the way of collecting, neither planning how large it will be in the end, nor which fabrics I'll find to make the backing and frame. I arranged the pieces on the red fabric which I cut about 2" larger than the final tile. I wrapped the edges twice towards the inside of the square and used small stitches to connect the parts. Again, this is hand-sewn from the front. This is a very good method for a quilt-as-you-go project.

And there is something else to show.

Judi Hurwitt has a beautiful photo of a hummingbird in her blog.
She kindly gave me the permission to use it as a template. I did this drawing and then one with a textile felt tip pen on t-shirt fabric. This was not such a good idea, the drawing did not turn out exactly as I wanted it to be. It is clumsy and awful, compared with the paper version. The fabric gave in to the pen movements, a not very satisfying result. But here it is, ironed and framed with a dark green fabric. I started quilting it.

T-shirt fabric is amazingly tough and resists my hand quilting; I think I'll not use that stuff again which is a shame because it reacts well on lino printing. Too bad it is so unpleasant to hand quilt.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Some chapters of theory

Say something nice -- and if you can't, don't say anything

I remember very well the day I arrived in Copenhagen for one of my first Buddhist workshops. It was in November 1979, and on the way there, I had stayed overnight in a moist farmhouse which caused me to caugh incessantly. One of my compassionate Buddhist female buddies had not been able to sleep well, due to my caughing, and she said: "I'm not going to sleep another night with you around!" So when I approached the reception in the Copenhagen house to check in, I asked if they had single rooms, too. (Oh, I was ready to pay a little more!). Usually, we pilgrims slept side by side on camping mats, sometimes in the temple if it was crowded, once I slept on the office floor without a mat.
The lady at the reception, a sturdy and radiant viking lady, smiled at me brightly and said: "Oh, I know exactly what you want: A single room with a bath and a view on the sea."
Gosh, I was taken aback. A little shocked, even. Was this the Buddhist compassion?
A few months later, I made remarks like this to other newbies. And they learnt to laugh about it, just as I learnt it. A few weeks later. I learnt that the aim is getting rid of the ego, taking oneself less important, and this demands a sense of humor. Pride is ego. But, what is more important: Being a victim is ego, and this is worse ego than pride.
We support one another. We confirm one another about what we're doing. This is great. For centuries -- sorry -- for decades I was yearning for approval, something I have been striving for since childhood -- and don't we all? Some of us lack this when they need it most.
This is heartbreaking. Yes, we need to be confirmed, to be strengthened by other's appreciation, and I found that it heals old wounds to give this confirmation to others much more than to get it.

Hearing praises blocks efforts

Success can be a problem. To say it in a Zen way: The innocence of undesigned action is lost. To act non-action doesn't mean to be lazy and lethargic, it is the flow of not planning, but working in a natural way. How does blogging influence this process? We work in public, share steps and phases before we show the complete work. This is highly social and it is welcomed by other bloggers who get inspiration and know-how. It is so different from the lonely experimenting before. It has helped me to an enormous extent to find a direction.
Yet I want to encourage my readers to criticize, too. This is difficult in a society in which each one "thinks for others". This responsible feeling is stronger in the USA than it is in Europe. It is close to tutalizing sometimes. If someone gets hurt, it is my fault.
It is great to be social and compassionate, but it should not fence us in. Sometimes, confidence in other's ability to take a critical remark is needed. Supporting someone else's ego by respecting their vulnerability may not be better than helping by saying: "Oh, you can do better".
I had an arts teacher who decapitated one of my drawings with the remark: "This is young girls' kitsch."
He was a great teacher. And I knew he was right. I'm grateful even now, 45 years later.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The house is mine

My man went to Heligoland for 3 days. Every year, he goes on a little trip with his best friends. Now I am alone, and I partly enjoy it, at the same time I miss him. These trips are a tradition since 1982. First, their aim was Munich, the Oktoberfest. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to get a decent place there without reservation, and I'm pretty glad they lost interest. Instead, they went to Amsterdam, Dublin, Rome, Budapest, and Klaipeda (Lithunia). This time, due to crisis and falling income, it is Heligoland. I saw the red rock when I was still in school, at 14 or so. Pretty impressive.
Today I finished the korak and gave it a binding. First binding I ever made. It is so crooked, but at least equal width. I'll try to block it a bit. It is small, 17x19,5 ". Now I'm thinking what to use it for. Because I like to use textile things and not just hang them on a wall. Fabrics need to be touched, I believe.

Slept under the bird quilt and actually had a very vivid dream of a wren. I swear it is true.

P.S. Heligoland, where it lies, and its history.

P.P.S. Your comments make me think about a wall hanging.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New birds on the block

The bird quilt is so large now that I have to spread it out on the balcony to show it completely. I integrated a very old embroidery I made for my Mom about 25 years ago. It was my own design, embroidered on a silk cushion cover. The fabric broke after a few years, and my friend C, a professional textile restorator, repaired it -- I cannot see where. But there was newer damage. I think the latest quilting will strengthen it and help to maintain it for some time.
My mother died in 2001. I got the cushion cover back. There is a strong scent of her perfume about it. When I took it out of the drawer, I and J felt her "presence".
What else is new? A falcon in the sunshine, a bird in a cage, quilting on the night piece and -- a diving bird, just diving. You see: When we went out watching birds, my parents and I, who all loved to do this, we could never be sure to see anything interesting. Birds like to be hiding.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rainbow and funny clouds

They say there is a treasure hidden where a rainbow touches the earth. Without being too precise, I think I know what treasure. He is next to me, and his name is J. Or let me take it as a good omen for the near future.
Picture taken this afternoon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Favourite Fabrics I

My favourite fabric ever is a print cloth imitating an Indonesian batik. I've been googling up and down to find similar prints. Original batiks have become very expensive.
I integrated this into the bird quilt. No birds on this one. It is a night piece. The birds are asleep.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Korak close up

Fighting with a porcupine -- or: sewing a piece that is full of pins. I'm trying another method, that is to pre-sew (what on earth is the correct word?) in large stitches with a thread I'll remove after doing the proper sewing in a small hem stitch.
The scraps are ironed in double: Squares form triangles, longer rectangles are folded to form rectangle beams. Then they are positioned overlapping, so that the folded side remains uncovered, but the cuts are hidden by the top level.
For a good explanation, I recommend the book by Ruth Tschudi which is bilingual, German and English.

As you can see in the picture, I thoroughly avoid to use a ruler. The only aid is a plastic square as a template for the triangles. Usual quilting fabric is almost a bit too stiff for this method; it is great for using scraps of thinner quality, even silks.
The sun is shining through the windows and balcony door. This is the lovely place where I do my sewing. In our living room, the light is best. And I have the TV telling me stories. I don't have to look much.

In the afternoon, the kids will be back from school, and on the playground downstairs, on the roundabout, there will be up to 12 kids spinning and screaming until they are close to fainting. You can imagine that I rather close the windows then.

There is a Lower German proverb: "'n beten scheev hett Gott leev", means, God loves the slightly skew things. I hope so.

Curious wasps come in and go, they know where, I don't even have to tell them. One of them came to look into my eyes from a 3" distance. Be cool.

P.S. Something I'd like to draw your attention to: The oldest quilt in England, 1718