Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Halloween Posting: The Private Property Ghost

You may be wondering what happened to my blog: Not much about quilting, embroidery or painting... Well, until my husband will start in his new job, we try to enjoy every hour together and take walks, visit relations and tell them about the great news.
But today, I started thinking about something different.

This was one of the slides my father took back from the USA in 1955, on the peak of anticommunist efforts of the U.S. government and other supporters of the campaign. It seems that since then, also Germany on the western half adapted the horror vision of communism, and obviously, this weapon isn't blunt yet, but on the contrary, it is still being used in order to reject any attempts to install more justice.
In the west of my home country, this seems to be accepted without protest.

We took a walk along a lake which was created by industrial brick making from the middle of the 19th century on. In summer, it is an open air pool. We walked around the lake. No way to reach the water. Around the whole lake, every foot of soil is private property. There are tiny gardens around it where people grow their own flowers, fruit and veggies. Sure, they should! I'm not a communist nor their victim (top picture. Any similarities?) -- I just want to reach the beach in some place. Just a tiny path between the gardens. Please... I don't know why I have this desire, there is a bottle of water in my rucksack. In many places I can. There is access to lakes via public roads and trails. But when such trails cross private property, there are more and more owners in Germany who barricade the path and deny access. Illegally. And they fight with the help of solicitors for their rights. The community fights back. No barbed wire along trails, says law.
In the east, people don't accept these changes, and they lack understanding. They are used to public interest dominating over private interest. That's what they learnt during communism.

Beware of a holy privatism in a densly populated land. It only works in vast areas.
In England, there is a right of the public to maintain walking and biking trails over private property. As far as I learnt, it is not a communist country yet.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trying out the New Car

In the afternoon, we rode to a river valley near our home where we love to walk. As it was around 2 pm, there was hardly anyone on the narrow paths that lead along the water. It was rather dark, and there was no wind, not very cold. Difficult to take photos. But I really have to show you this beautiful scene and the villa of some rich people.

Something was missing

You remember how it all started? There was a small quilt that Jude started. I put some birds on it and used Indonesian pieces as clouds and water. I started with greens and blues and thought that this would do. But I'm quite a red person. More and more red birds turned up and set the quilt in motion. Birds come and go as they like to do; some shacks and houses formed around the edges of the quilt, but the birds preferred to move freely around in space, and so this big red bird has done. It appeared in the middle and the blue one seems to be following.
My husband and I are so different! Apart from the age gap (I'm 16 years older), he is a tidy, systematic, analytic person, and I am the chaotic one. He is an admirer of arts, I'm the artist. He is the calculating and planning person, I am the one who needs structure. He is the red bird of action, flying out into the world; I'm the blue dreamer who likes him to be the pacemaker.

Now something different: I started a print cloth with my little grim lino bears. It is cloth paint on cotton, and when I iron it, it can be washed warm. I will give it a little background washing when the bears are fixed by ironing.
I plan to do tiger cloth, too, and chicken cloth, salmon cloth and more. What do you think: Should I try an Etsy sale?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Autumn pics until you get sick

Today, J signed his working contract. While he was in the office, I took a walk and shot a few pictures of the shrubs and hedges along the street. Isn't this a fall as all of them are? I don't know; maybe I just develop a sense of color, more than I did in the past years.
See more...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Where my Dad was a vicar

Yesterday, J met his former colleagues, and we had a marvellous brunch. We went to Bergedorf, a small town, part of Hamburg since 1937, but somehow the Bergedorfers never gave up their spirit of independence. I lived there from 1968 thru 1983. My father was the "1st Vicar", but his job was not easy in this very conservative parish. He had some trouble after announcing in public that he would vote for the Social Democrats. -- After the brunch, we took a walk around the castle (the only castle in the Hamburg district) up to the hills where the villas are. This photo of the castle was made one year ago, and the picture of the church was taken by someone else.

By the way: I was NOT the daughter a vicar could ask the lord for.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

News from a long time project

Probably you are already fed up with this one. But a project of this size takes time! Even more so, because we are busy doing things that will not be done when J starts working again. So this is my occupation in the evenings while watching tv. I prepare the patches during daylight and quilt them in the evening.
I found that after discovering the korak technique, I love it more than doing appliqué. This is why there are more korak pieces on the edges than in the middle.

Most of the plain red parts are covered now, and you can see I'm coming close to the finishing phase. I chose a backing fabric and the binding material is waiting ready-ironed and ripped into stripes (I got it from my m-i-l, a heap of strips she could not use. It is the burgundy material next to the bat).

I'm afraid this one looks like eagle and swastika; this is not intended!!

This is a very chaotic and experimental quilt. I applied different techniques and so many colors. And it wasn't planned from the beginning. It is more like a bird collects food, wandering around, picking bits here and there, just having a favourite branch to sleep on and finding his path in a miraculous way. On the other hand, birds create the most faithful and affectionate relationships, having subtle and differenciated tools of communication. They are the grandchildren of the dinosaurs. I just love them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Here's the proud owner of a used 2006 car. He will be a commuter on a longer distance than before; in his old job, it was comfortable to take the tube. As we rely on the promise of his future boss, he hasn't signed a contract yet. But in Hamburg, a spoken contract is as powerful as a written one -- at least among traditional merchants. So we are confident and went out to the car trade. There has to be a new car after the disgraceful collaps the other day. And in order to cover the sad view of the faded varnish, I put my korak on our poor old vehicle that somehow is still dear to me after 12 years and some wonderful journeys... On Monday, we'll get a new registration and licence plates, and we can start.
Beautiful autumn day. Saw this on the way home.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

See this

Found this thru a comment on Jude Hill's blog. Where's Jude? She hasn't posted for 3 days...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bauhaus project

The first row of the Bauhaus quilt is here. It was rather quickly done, because I used the korak method: Fold a piece and pin it to the carrier fabric (an strip of an old bed sheet). One side is folded, one is open. Put the next folded piece onto the cut side of the patch, so that only a folded edge is visible. Connect parts with a hem stitch along the folded line. I showed this method here.
I started quilting, but it might be wiser to do this when a number of strips will be finished. Then I will find the proper combination of strips. Quilting this might turn it into an infinite project... But I want to make a cosy quilt for my beloved hubby before winter is over.
The wool fabric from my husband's jacket is wonderful to work with. I should cut more suits into pieces.

I have to tell you a little story. When I was a kid of 3 or 4, I loved scissors. And I had access to them. My parents had the confidence that I would learn to handle safely what I learnt to use early. But one afternoon when I was put to bed for a nap, I applied this wonderful tool on my stockings (yes, at that time, also children wore wool stockings with clips to hold them up), and I was attracted by the little bulbs the clips had left behind, and cut them off. Then I started working on a new unused fabric that was hanging from the rail of my kid's bed and started cutting out the lovely scenes of playing and reading children that were printed on the cloth. That was when my Mom came in and interrupted a quilter's career for decades.

Update on J's job. The same company as I mentioned on Tuesday offered him a job which is exactly what he used to do. Same money, same responsibilty, familiar subjects. We are so happy! Thanks to all of you who sent kind thoughts and who crossed fingers for him!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumn Almanach

Autumn is on its peak in our region. I spent two hours of the afternoon in my favourite park downton, in Hamburg's "Central Park". There were lovely surprises around every corner. I just did not know where to look first! And the sky was radiant blue. No trail schmutz, something that is so rare. The Japanese teahouse was enhanced by this burning bush.

And there were old roses, standing proudly against the autumn leaves. Incredible combinations like violett, yellow, and pink.

So different from what you see in summer.
It was cold! I could hardly handle the camera without a glove for longer time. We had frost last night. This is the goodbye parade of the flowers. And also these lovely little birds will stop flying.

This morning, I went to see a Tibetan doctor. She lives in India and came for a 14 days visit. She told me to reduce fat (outch). And that my stomach is over-sensitive. She gave me pills for building up my energy. And she told me which spot hurts -- she hit it exactly! -- and said, it is from being worried. Now I have to make supper. No food after 8 p.m.

P.S. Doing the layout in the old editor (we don't get the new one yet) is a pain i. t.a.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Too difficult

This is the stash for my Bauhaus project. And yes, the dark grey jacket is part of it. There are a few moth holes in it, and we asked how much it would be to do invisible mending. It is half the price for a new suit.
But I find it so scaring to cut into it!
The rust red stuff is an old summer blouse of mine. The sewing is just out of this world. So bad. Just can't look at it. I did it 20 years ago.
Then there are two of J's shirts. Normal quilting cloth is a lot stronger than these fabrics. But I want to do a korak technique in which the pieces are laid double, so a thinner quality is better.
J had an interview in a very friendly atmospere, they want him, but cannot really offer him the right job at the moment. You know we don't have this hire-and-fire system, and that's good. But they want to give him something else instead which would mean: 1. unknown functional area, 2. more responsibility, 3. less money. I don't care about 3, but 1+2 make him scared. He told them, true to the facts, that he doesn't feel competent on this field, and they thanked him for his honesty.
They will call. We'll see what happens.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Our car knows where it is

The weather was so nice today, and we wanted to go for a walk. We took our dear old car to the gas station and a wash, but after leaving it, the car had serious problems. We thought it would just have to get dry and we would have to take a little ride and let the motor get warm. But the car went on strike right in front of a car trade and did not move one step further. J just got it out of the trafic safely.
I started laughing, it was irony! But J did not find that funny at all. Tomorrow, he will be going for a second talk with one of the companies he applied for, but he will not open the champagne bottle unless he signs a contract tomorrow.
Although this was an Opel car trade, the mechanics had a look into the motor, but did not know what to do. So we had to call the Volkswagen expert, and he found the reason for the breakdown and exchanged a spare part. We rode off happily after 2 hours, as the sun went down and it was getting really cold. So much about the walk.

Tibetan Weekend

Surprisingly, our Lama Ontul Rinpoche came to stay over the weekend. He had visited Estonia and Russia, together with his son, who is also a high incarnation. Ontul Rinpoche is sitting in the middle of the picture, next to the young monk in orange robes, his son. It was so good to see him. He asked me how I am, I said "okay", but then I told him about my husband's job problem and mine with the tone that won't let me sleep. I've been working hard with my mind, speech and body, sitting on a cushion, reciting mantras, meditating. The tone is almost gone now, and this morning, my husband got a call from his -- hopefully -- future company to talk to them tomorrow.
The monks in the picture are mostly refugees from Tibet; some came just recently across the montains, they fled from China. Many of the boys have lost one parent or both. The parents of some are too poor or too sick to earn a living. Our Lama's wife (standing, grey dress) coordinates the sponsoring of the monks and nuns. This Lama is not a monk (he used to be when he was young), but a married ordained person which is possible in most Tibetan orders. Everyone makes his own choice whether to take celibacy vows or not. All these boys will decide whether to keep the vows or put them down when they will be about 18 or 20 years old. Being married is not an obstacle to receiving highest initiations.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Kandinsky Embroidered

As I don't have much to show at the moment, I picked something old, a crewel embroidery from last year. It was taken from a Kandinsky picture. I like the serene mood which his Paris composition radiate out. This was drawn on a silk-like fabric and embroidered with old German "Zephir" crewel wool.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Walk to the Quilt Shop

The time of red berries and yellow leaves is here. We took a walk to a part of town which is actually less than 2 miles away from the city, but nice and quiet with shady gardens and a squirrel:
This one wasn't shy at all and approached us to a distance of about 2 yards. But it was moving too fast to be caught by the camera.
In this part of town, there are two shops that attract us. J has his comic book shop where he purchased the latest Marvel book; and I got a little pack of long hand quilting needles in our quilt shop. There were beautiful quilts for sale or just exposed to be admired. Beautiful cloth, wonderful colors, traditional patterns, well-sewn -- to put it short: boring.

What was I thinking? I can't believe what I said! Sorry!

I just noticed that I took a pledge. It is named the Poverty Quilt Challenge. I feel like founding a web ring named CIRQUE. Chaotic Inspired Rag Quilts of the Universe and Europe. Badge may be copied freely.
This is all self-evident for American readers; you are invited to skip it, if it is so.

Germans have a different attitude towards used things. They associate them to the years 1945-1948 when they had literary nothing. Very little food, heating material and clothing. Everything was recycled and formed into something useful. Steel helmets were made into cooking pots. Parachute silk was crocheted into bed quilts. And it was not over during my childhood in the Fifties! I had a doll quilt made of parachute silk! We mostly wore clothes from my older cousins. My granddad used his pencils, until they were so short that he could not even put them into a pencil holder.
Most older people in Germany hate second-hand material like rags because they remind them of 1946/47.
This was a poverty that was not self-chosen. But some think it was just.

But I dig recycling. I find it inspiring. The rules I chose for myself are such:
"It is a matter of self-chosen limits. At least 75% of the quilt should be used or vintage fabric. Limitation is sexy! Use what you've got. Own stash, discarded clothes, swapped, given, inherited, second-hand bargains.
It is a matter of Feng Shui. Use what you have or give it away. The sum of items kept in your household can decrease this way, this is a healthy process.
It is a matter of environmental protection. Textile garbage is a serious challenge.
It is a matter of magic. Used fabric, especially those that have been used by you and your family, are bearers of memory."

When I saw these beautiful fabrics, I started thinking about the origin of patchwork. It started because Indian calico was forbidden to import in the 17th century by the King of GB. But as these fabrics were so popular and beautiful, women kept every last scrap and made appliques out of the flower motifs or created pieced bed curtains and bed throws. -- The korak quilts of Central Asia, the rally quilts from India -- they are results of limited stash. And there was patchwork in Buddhist India. The monks made their gown out of given cloth pieces and dyed them marron to reach an overall look. Some parts of Buddhist ritual robes are pieced today, too. As they had taken the vow not to own posessions, this was a natural results. The Choed yogis of Tibet went even further: They used rags from the deceased in order to demonstrate their renounciation on worldly goods and their fearlessness about taboos like not to touch things that were taken from a dead body.

Quilting wasn't invented in order to cut good fabrics into scraps and rearrange them. But it is possible, it is fun and the material is there. Fabrics are a color palette like any other. Anyone who has fun doing so, should do it -- certainly there's nothing wrong with that! We are lucky to have this abundance and beautiful colors.