Sunday, November 29, 2009

New concept on the bauhaus quilt

Do presents necessarily have to be surprises? We decided against that.
My husband knows what he will get for Xmas or hopefully during the winter season. My initial intention was to do the pieced pattern all over. But this will be too puzzling. Some solids should calm the pattern down, and my husband would like a dark fabric to make a kind of frame, together with a turquoise line. I'm perfectly sure that I won't be able to do such a straight line as photoshop did. Now I'll have to find a fabric that goes with the bright stuff I've done already. But I haven't got much left, just a small scrap.
Jude sent me fabrics, among them the center piece of this detail. It is a velvet which fits perfectly into the concept.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

E-Mail from Siberia

A few days ago, I received a mail from a gentleman in Siberia. He told me that he had the same name as my ancestors in Estonia, and his family came from Estonia, too. Now, there are obviously relatives of mine who speak Russian and English.
He sent me a photo of his greatgrandfather J. He and my greatgrandfather V must have been brothers. Their second name is very rare, and there is only one family of this name in Russia.
Two of these brothers, V and A, had a forge in the Wall Street (ha!) in Tallinn, Estonia. Their mother Anna (picture) must be the ancestor we have in common. She lived from 1833 until 1903. Her family probably came from Lithuania. She was née Filipov.
If it is true that our ancestors J and V were brothers, then Evgenij is my nephew of which degree? 4th?
This shows how closely related mankind really is, doesn't it?

How far do your most distant relatives live?

And this is how far I got with my bauhaus quilt in the meantime.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Thanksgiving is an American holiday. We have a "harvest thanksgiving" in the churches. But as every day has reasons for gratitude in some way, why not join the feeling of gratitude which spreads from the blogs of you, my friends. And without a deeper analysis of the American feast, I take the oportunity to express my thank to my late parents, whom I saw in a dream last night, and who knows if they saw me, too. And I want to thank my husband for his constant love, protection and generosity and a sense of humor that it takes to handle me.I know that some of you will say, excuse me, this gratitude is for the Lord. Right, but as a Buddhist, I don't have a personal idea of God.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Animal prints

After working on a website for a furniture shop, I fortunately could go back to my animal print project at last. Recently I finished another print I gave away already and forgot to take a picture. Now this one will be on the way soon to an artist who inspires me infinitely.
The idea of animal prints in a square keeps haunting me after finishing the Chickenshack quilt. I'm working on a theme, this is something I never did when I was younger. It had to be perfect right away, or I would discard it. But this is not the way to accomplish something, when trying to become an artist.
I called this animal print project the Pazyryk project because the tiger is part of the treasures found in the kurgan of Pazyryk. It was carved into the cascet of the nobleman in this grave, but I never found another picture of it. Chris, thank you for sending me a reproduction.
Two more print cloths are in my Etsy shop; you may have seen them and will find them changed. I painted the background of both of them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Abstracts in the kitchen

You wouldn't expect me to work in black and white and to follow the footprints of Jackson Pollock, would you? Well, anything can happen. I did this on Saturday late afternoon which must have been at the time when this great lesson on abstract art took place. I wonder if you can find out what media and canvas I was using. It was fun! For the first time -- and this is my hint for you to find out -- I really liked this job.
The winner of this contest will receive an animal print, made from my lino cuts, of about 10x10" size.
We had guests last night, to celebrate J's birthday. He was 44 on Thursday. His best friend J and his wife V came round. I made puff pastry, one kind with a sheep cheese-tomato-filling, the other with crabmeat, sprouts, mushrooms, carot, a little bit of roasted sesame oil for a teriyaki flavour, and a little bit of kiwi fruit. Didn't have the time to take pictures.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


A new job is waiting for me, one that is very valuable to me and I feel honoured to do it. The district parliament of a part of Hamburg commemorates the victims of the 3rd Reich every year on January 27, and I am to do the picture show for the background of the reading. What will be read by some members of parliament are documents about the lives of a few citizens of Hamburg who were deported or in another way victims of their political conviction, their confession, their roots. You may have heard about the "Stolpersteine", small brass panels with the name and life data of these citizens, applied on the pavement in front of the houses where they lived.
There is some controversy about them. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Discovering America

One year ago, I opened a new blog and tried blogging in English. It took me some courage, because my English has never been trained or even tried in an English speaking country. My foot has never touched the soil of Great Britain nor the USA or Australia, the country where -- as the family epics were sung to me -- my grandfather's brother fled from a woman who followed him, and they got married. I was an avid follower of my father's reports from America where he travelled around for 3 months in 1955 when I was six. His lantern slide show was my television, my first English words were "new" and "whooosh", the sound coming from a just opened can -- on adverts in "Ladies' Home Journal". This is where I got aquainted with Munro Leaf's "Watchbird" stories and pondered over his "Never-put-backer".
My relationship towards the USA changed in the years of adolescence, but I won't dwel on that. At a mature age of 57 I took up a craft I had learnt from my grandmother: Needlepoint. For 30 years, I had a box of brightly colored crewel wool in the attic, and to my amazement, the moths had eaten only a tiny bit of it. And there was an unfinished baby blocks embroidery with a special woven stitch. I finished it, and more projects followed. I showed my embroidery to blog readers in Germany for about half a year and had two followers.

The internet is a blessing. It showed me that the kind of craft I was looking for does exist, I wanted to expose my modest work to the judgement of embroiderers and quilters who did things I admire. On November 17, 2008, I opened my blog towards the west.

Congratulations to all of you who have been following me and who read it now! Without your advice and encouragement, my attempts to start quilting and cloth-printing wouldn't have got very far. Thank you so much, Ladies! I wish you a happy new blogging year in good health and success.

Monday, November 16, 2009

No Jazz?

So this was Louisiana. This is the name of a suburban restaurant in northern Hamburg. Yummy chicken with chilis, fries, 3-4 grams of cole slaw, a lot more meat than I can eat. "Cajun" said the menu. I wonder if it really was. J helped me with the last chick stick. We were invited by my friend M. She owns a travel agency. I had designed an advert for the screen in the background, and this food was my salary.
The wall was covered with large photos of Southern scenes and Jazz musicians. But the background music was no Jazz! I asked the waitress, and she said, the guests don't want to hear it. (Well, who am I?)
People don't seem to like it much over here. Only old people like me do. I'm listening tho Thelonious Monk, as I'm posting.

All those pictures on the wall, and no Jazz... Far from Cajun music.
Anyway, it was a nice evening out. We had a long talk with M and her husband. But I will recommend her to cancel the advertising contract. Nobody looked at the screen.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vibrant surprise

Yesterday, a wonderful letter reached me with a procyon-dyed cloth and variegated bamboo thread. And a card was attached saying that Els from the Netherlands wasn't able to write comments because I excluded anonymous commenters (what was I thinking?). I fixed that right away. Thank you, Els!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to connect the strips

Deborah, you asked how I would connect the strips, and I wasn't sure how to do that either. I tried bendig the edge of one and fix it with pins, then apply a seam stitch which doesn't go through all layers. This seems to be the answer: pure korak technique. It is not difficult to work, and it looks satisfying. My husband said, "they ask how you'll do it, because they want to find out if this German chick knows a way, probably she doesn't, chucklechuckle". He's quite sarcastic sometimes! That Bauhaus lover. But the truth is: My quilting friends in the USA and elsewhere gave me so many valuable and helpful hints, photos and encouragement. Without you, I wouldn't have started successful quilting at all. And success -- okay, let's remain modest, my abilities are what you can expect if someone starts quilting at almost 60. I'm not aiming at any contest. Having a nice piece under which it is possible to sleep as well -- that's my idea of success.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Now I have time for the Bauhaus Project

I started this quilt for my husband a few weeks ago when I cut his old jacket into pieces. Now I'm continuing this piece in a kind of korak method, but I quilt it, as can be seen in the picture. 13 strips like these two will make the complete quilt of about 60x48". I guess it will be extra fun to arrange the strips and make them match before I sew them. This piece works a lot faster than the bird quilt, as the quilting is in larger stitches, too. It would be great if I could finish it for Xmas. I use a wooden board in order to protect the table from the pins.

The bird quilt is almost finished. You can still see the basting which of course will be removed. I'll do some very large but hidden quilting stitches on the reverse. This is what I do during watching TV in the evenings.

This is my first properly done, bed size quilt.
I sewed two in the seventies, but as I did not know that they had to be quilted, they fell apart after some use, and I discarded them.

Interesting times

"May you live in interesting times", this is a Chinese curse. When I was 43, I married a handsome Turkish guy. This picture was taken in Adana where he came from. I was wearing a scarf which represents the typical Adana fabrics, but I found out after I bought this vintage scarf from India for 2$ on a flea market. He was very surprised to see me wearing it and he told me so, and I later found very similar things in the Museum of History in Adana. Along with a fantastic collection of Kelims.
A few days before I went out with C for the first time, I sewed myself a pair of red harem pants. I knew that bridal costumes in Old Turkey were red, as they were in China and in Central Asia. It was clear to me that I would be wearing red when I got married. I had no idea who to be married to. But when I was wearing these pants for the first time, sitting in a street café, part of a Turkish restaurant where I frequently had lunch, this waiter whom I had seen a few times stepped up to me and asked me "to take a walk with him", in other words, he wanted to take me out. And it did not take long until he proposed.
I wonder if I knew that my first marriage would be unhappy.
We married in Adana, I was wearing red (the same harem pants), but it did not bring me luck. This marriage ended after 4 years.
Four days before my divorce hearing, in 1997, I met the man I married later, and we've been together since then. Happily.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Basting the backing

After 17 years in my stash drawer, this Turkish fabric will be the backing of the bird quilt. I bought it at an incredibly low price in Turkey, when I was engaged to get married for the first time. It was in Mersin, a southern harbour, where we went to a fair (lunapark) with my fiancé and his family, mother, younger brother and two sisters. We took one of these small cheap buses called "dolmuş", pronounced "dolmush", which means "we are complete". Explanations at the end of this posting.
In Mersin, we visited a market, and I tried to find vintage fabrics or bedcloths, table cloths, whatever. Most of the stuff was so ugly that tears came to my eyes. Later I found out that this piece was for oversize bed covers, so I never used it, just kept thinking that I would change it to a proper size some day.
That night, I also witnessed a weird performance of a standup comedian dressed like a harem eunoch in fairytales, appearing together with a beautiful tall singer who looked like a model and sang like a pop star. We sat at a table and had a drink, and my fiancé told the show man that there was a German guest. Me. A sensation in the Turkish province! Nobody ever goes to Mersin. It is a stinking industrial place. So I was celebrated as the only tourist who ever came to Mersin.

Now I took this evidence of my presence in Mersin out of the drawer and washed it. It faded a little, but that's alright for vintage.
I basted the backing, creeping on the carpet, because I don't have a large table. My sports for today.

These are private vehicles which stop on a gestic signal of people waiting anywhere along the road. To signalize how many persons want to get on the bus, you point the according number of fingers to the driver, and he either stops or shows the number of free seats with his fingers and drives by. The same fee is payed for any distance. When you reach the desired place, you just call "stop!" and you're allowed out. A dolmuş can take up to 10 Persons on board.
This is very practical.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sugar is on Fire

Last night, we went to a party. My husband's best friend celebrated his birthday. They were neighbours from their birth on, almost like brothers. There were 14 guests, some were old friends of J, and we had a great time, although I find it more and more difficult to follow a conversation in a mess of voices.
After a very tasty and terribly trefe meal (a soup of sheep milk cheese with minced meat, garlic, and tomatoes) we witnessed the performance of a red wine punch with a burnig sugar cone. The sugar cone is put on a metal stand over the bowl, filled with spiced red wine which is kept warm by a fondue heater.

There is cinnamon and cloves and some other spices, those you would use for gingerbread. Then the sugar is soaked with strong rum and lit. The sugar will melt burning, drip into the wine and sweeten it with a taste of caramel. Both of us took just a small tea glass, J had to drive me home, after all!

Exposure time of the pictures: 2,0"

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Unusual procedure

I guess the proper way to finish a quilt is to do the backing first and then do the binding. I made a binding first. It is because there are still a few smaller parts that have to be quilted, and I am applying some change on the middle part because I wanted it to be brighter in color in order to adapt it to the rest. I started with subdued colors, but soon found out that it doesn't work. I must have folk art of my Russian ancestors in my veins. So I started to let some green stuff grow around the birds on the olive green background.
Before I did the binding, it was so thin at the edges that I felt cold; now I can sleep properly under my not-quite-finished quilt. It feels a lot warmer. Could it be that the binding contributes so much to the warming effect of the quilt?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Seduced by color... Mea culpa, mea culpa

Not so long ago, I made a pledge to use worn, given, second hand and inherited cloth. But then...
I had the intention to do some appliqué leaves between the birds. I find it very laborious to do appliqué, and I admire the patience that is manifested in Barbara's "Trellis". But I wanted to turn the middle of this piece into a joyful natural surrounding where the birds can play. The background, even quilted, doesn't look joyful enough to me. The flying birds need some more of these "Tibetan" clouds from Indonesia. This is why I surrendered and, with a tragical tremble in my voice, said to myself: "You have to get these fabrics". I broke my pledge. Hit me.
The Bird Quilt top is almost finished. No more large gaps, only small strips to be finished. It is large enough to allow a nap together with J on the sofa, both covered up. Now I'll cut this Turkish bedcover apart and give the quilt a one-cloth backing and a binding.
The boxes on the edge are houses, limitation of natural space, as I experience them, but also refuge and the way to survive winter in this latitude. They limit the bird's environment. Some get used to it like blackbirds or the heron who kept standing silently at his pond, when we walked by on Sunday.

Monday, November 2, 2009

First day in a new job

Traffic is a burden. J started 50 minutes before he has to start working. We did a test ride and reached the place in 35 minutes. The distance is 10 miles. This morning, he was 15 minutes late. Late for his first day! He found it very embarrassing, but they know and did not care much.
I'm sewing more and more korak parts onto my bird quilt. The birds will be surrounded by squares. Birds in town, birds in suburbs. Engulfed by walls. No time to post pictures, ladies! Maybe tomorrow.