28 Oct

Insane Project of the Week/Insane Project of the Evening

Nine months (how prophetic) after signing up, the time has finally come for us to hop on a plane and take me to Art Quilt Tahoe! I am treating myself to this as part of my campaign to take myself serious as an artist. We leave tomorow for two weeks in California.

So, what do I do, knowing that time is short? I ADD a project to my to-do list. I told my daughter’s kindergarten teacher that unfortunately, I would not be available to join the other moms for a morning of crafting in preparation for the Christmas Market. For most people, that might be enough, but noooooooo, I offered to craft at home. I volunteered to make fabric wine bottle gift sacks, since I do have a large fabric stash. Christmas Markets don’t start here in Germany until the fourth Sunday before Christmas, so I’ve got time. However, I figure that when I get back from Tahoe, I’ll be all jazzed and inspired and want to create some new fabulous thing. So I spent my week making 20 gift sacks. It was a bit crazy, but luckily, they went quickly, and now that’s over.

At dinner tonight TS&WGH asked if I knew where my driver’s licence was. GULP! As a dependent of US military personnel I have a US Forces in Europe Driver’s licence. Six years ago, when we were in Arizona, I had an Arizona licence which I paid and extra $15 for it to remain valid for something like 18 years. I used to carry it around because I thought the USAEUR licence was like Monopoly Money, but at one point I thought it would be better to put it in a safe place. I don’t usually drive when we’re in the US, and when I do, it’s in a family member’s car, so no one has asked me for my licence. This time, we plan on renting a car. And, oh no, I can’t remember where my “safe place” was! I can’t even remember if I had the AZ licence last time we were in Cali, though I’m quite sure I used it three years ago when we rented a car in England. I’ve torn apart the house. One would think that when you move every two years things would be in order (which, for the most part, they are) but man, when something is not in it’s place the first thought is not “it will show up sooner or later,” but that it got thrown out with the last move. I guess I’ll be visiting the DMV while in California. Luckily, we call Cali home and having a licence will go to proving it. TS&WGH actually did the same thing on our trip last year.

23 Oct

Why I Should Shop with a Chaperone

First off, I want to say thanks to everyone who has commented on my blog. Thank you for visiting, and for taking the time to read previous posts and to browse the rest of my site. I really appreciate it and hope you visit again. And for anyone who visited without commenting, thank you too for the visit.

I would normally describe myself as a “guy shopper.” I only shop when I need something specific, and I go directly to the store most likely to have it. No browsing, no bargain hunting. (I love bargains, but not the hunt!) I will admit, though, that on my last trip to the US, I went to Michael’s no less than three times in a four week trip and spent in the triple digits on at least one of the trips. (I also visited several quilt shops.) I banned myself from craft stores the last week of the trip.

Thursday I went to my local yarn shop, Annette’s Wollstübe. I like Annette, she’s very vivacious, an enthusiastic teacher, and she remembered me from a felting class I took months ago. So I went looking for something to couch around the edges of the owls that might emulate the lines of the original drawing. I contemplated some yarn/ribbon and ever-helpful Annette breezes over to point out a sweater knitted up in the “yarbon” (I don’t knit unless it’s a rectangle) and a scarf. The scarf was cool! She had made it by weaving the “yarbon” through a yarn net–I could do that. Thinking that this stuff must cost about 25 euro per meter I was pretty sure I could stick to my original shopping list. Nooooooo, it was cheap. For less than 15 euro total, I walked out with 1.5 meters of net, a skein of “yarbon”, and cotton chenille for the owls.

Here’s the raw materials:

Here’s the helpers:

Less than two hours later (could have been even quicker without the helpers) I had a super soft, attractive, bargain priced, unique scarf. TS&WGH is even encouraging me to go back and buy more net and “yarbon” for scarves to have on hand when we need an emergency gift. So, maybe it is OK for me to shop alone.

20 Oct

What I’m Working On

Recently TS&WGH (tech support and world’s greatest husband) announced that he wanted a Halloween costume for his iPod mini. How could I not comply?

And, just to prove that I don’t get out enough, my next project has also been inspired by a family member. Here’s a drawing my daughter did on a grocery list a few months ago. She describes it as an owl family. The tall one is the daddy:

So here’s what I’ve done with it so far. I’ve used the hand dyed silks I’ve been collecting, plus two silks I marbled and two I have painted. Only after I fused it all together did I read Melody’s blog and find important info regarding flat weave and twill weave fabrics and resulting stringy bits. Oh well, I planned on embellishing edges and stuff on this anyways. So, that’s where I am. What now? I want to satin stitch around some of the shapes, like the purple vertical stripe, but I think that the owls need somethng more special. I have ribbon floss I can use through the bobbin, but I don’t trust myself to do a decent job going accurately around the shapes while working from the back. I can couch from the front like I did on the fish , but then I think I need an even bolder choice of yarn or ribbon. I’d like to do some hand stitching/embroidery and plan to do some overall machine quilting as well. So, I’m setting this aside for a bit while I contemplate my options and determine which embelishments need to go on when in the whole process. Hmmmmmm.

I’m not sure if there’s some subconscious thing going on or not. As I was making this, I liked the way the tall owl looked on the stripey fabric. It seemed to emphasise the tallness. I also enlarged the others just for the sake of the composition. The subconscious part: daddy owl is cordoned off in his own world and mommy owl now has the greatest importance. Really, I didn’t mean to do that. Really.

16 Oct


This was the “big weekend.” Saturday was the day that a thousand squares of artwork were hung on a washline from one end of the Haupstrasse to the other to raise awareness, and eventually funds, for Frauennotruf Heidelberg. The Frauennotruf is a hotline for abused women which, I believe, connects them with the appropriate resources. Apparently they receive an average of 12 calls a day! A representative came to the Hearts and Castles quilt guild and asked if we would make squares. Not only did members donate about a dozen little quilts, but the guild donated a group project for Frauennotruf HD to raffle off! Anyway, I donated a quilted square too, — “Movin’ on,” and dragged the family downtown to see it “in situ” today.

I know it’s not supposed to be about me, it’s about women not as lucky as I am, but I was proud to have participated. So here’s another pic:

11 Oct

Stichelein, Michelstadt

Stichelein, Michelstadt, what are these words? The Stichelein is an annual fest for fiber arts, generally of the more conservative nature, but not exclusively. The fest is in the picturesque city of Michelstadt in the Odenwald (Germany). I have attended 6 of the 8 years we have been in this lovely country. This year was light on patchwork and exhibits, but heavy on the vendors. Not necessarily a bad thing, as the vendors were mostly artists showcasing their weaving, felting (very big here), silk and yarn dying, whitework, etc. There was glorious antique linen, fabulous capes and scarves made of silk with felted borders and motifs, buttons of all shapes, colors and sizes, incredible embroidery of all styles, handwork to boggle the mind and textures that screamed to be touched!

Anyways, thinking I’d try to look the part of a fiber artist, I wore my scrappy poncho.

To my utter amazement, no less than four ladies stopped me to say how cool it was and to ask how I made it! Sure, I like it enough to wear it, and it is off the beaten path, but really, I was just trying to use up scraps. I was more impressed by the lady who made similar ponchos from wool, silk and other ethereal fibers. Anyways, as I was oggling everyone else’s art, they were checking out mine. Kinda fun. There was a wonderful vibe of everyone sharing and supporting. Everyone was chatting and some people had brought projects to work on where we could all see their techniques. I had a long talk with a charming artist, Veronika Schütz, who paints silk and makes the most meticulously crafted scarves. I almost bought one made from several panels of different silks, but liked the drape of this one better:

So, with a bag full of hand dyed fibers and a gorgeous handmade silk scarf around my neck, I drove home through mountains washed in autumnal colors, to the Neckar river and, out of the corner of my eye, caught a glimpse of a riverside town with half timbered houses (fachwerk) and castle perched on top. This photo of Hirschhorn doesn’t do it justice. Anyways, it’s just the scene I needed to try a new abstracted composition. At the suggestion of a friend, I have been revisiting artists such as Kandinsky and Klee, and I must say I look at their early works a lot differently now, throught the eyes of a quilter instead of the eyes of an art student. So, I pulled over and did a quick sketch of the scene and made some notes on color and fabric. I hope to have the time soon to work on this some more. I’m still unsure as to weather I should approach it in a collage manner, just cutting stuff up and arranging it on my design wall until I like it, or if I should make detailed drawing and work out kinks there first. Hmmmmmm.

In all it was a wonderful day in the country!

08 Oct

Scarves and Marbling

So here’s the results of my last marbling session. They’re not quite ready for prime time, as some colors adversely polluted the next piece, and there are bubbles of uneven paint, but overall I’m quite pleased. By the time you tie on the scarf, or cut the part you need from the fabric, it looks great. I love that I never know just how each design will turn out, and often I set out to make one pattern but discover a wonderful new one along the way. Now, if I could just get my paints to flow smoothly…

“Amethyst Lode” Scarf

“Aqua” Scarf, marbled twice

“Aquafier” Scarf

“Eggs” Cotton fabric, marbled twice. I think this is just goofy enough to go with the owls.

“Jewel” Scarf

“Koi Pond” Scarf

“Pebble” Scarf

“Red Tide” cotton fabric, marbled twice. Bonus: two of my newest purchases, a Bali Batik and Kaffe Fasset Paperweights, go great with this!

“Seeing Spots” Scarf, marbled twice

So Mom, which scarf do you want?

08 Oct


My children both attend german schools. Last September we moved to a new town and their new Kindergarten (3 to 6 year olds) has the cutest, atmospheric, names for each of the classrooms. My son was in the Mondschein (moonlight) group, and my daughter is now starting her second year with the Regenbogen (Rainbow) group. Last spring, because I wanted to experiment with fabric collage, and because my son was moving on to first grade, I made this quilt for the door to his classroom:

So, not to feel left out, I made one for my daughter’s group. It’s not as artsy, but from the minute I imagined quilts for the classroom doors, I thought of a bargello rainbow. The ladies at my LFS thought I was nuts buying the ugly melted sherbet fabric, but agreed it looked pretty good under the rainbow. My sister-in-law sent me $1 per yard sale fabric with kids all over it which I used under the rainbow too, and for the back. So, I gave it to my daughter’s teacher on Friday morning. She was flabergasted, and wouldn’t you know it, but she ended up showing it off, not just to the kids and the other teachers, but to all the parents and even the head priest (it’s a parochial kindergarten) at the “Singkreis” that afternoon. (A quarterly show the kids put on for all the families, where they sing a bunch of songs and maybe do a dance and finger story or two.) I didn’t expect quite so public a thank-you, but at least I know she REALLY likes the quilt 😉

04 Oct


I’ve had a marble-a-thon the last few days. The ladies in the quilting group I belong to asked me to do a workshop of sorts at our Monday meeting. I prepared fat quarters of fabric and brought all my supplies and we took over one VERY generous lady’s basement and marbled fabric. Of course, I neglected to bring my camera, but I do have pics of my pre-party practice. Since the size on which I marble lasts a few days, I usually go on marbling binges. This time around, I tried marbling on colored and printed fabric as well as plain white.

Here’s a close-up:

Here’s the final fruits of my labors:

And here’s my favorites. I am especially happy with the two yellow/purple ones on silk. I think one day they’ll join Melody Johnson’s fabulous rainbow hand dyed silk on a psychodelic owl quilt based on a drawing by my daughter.

Speaking of my daughter, she really wanted to help:

Turns out, she’s pretty good at rinsing.

So that was Sunday’s work. Monday was marble-o-rama with the ladies. Tonight, I finally finished off the raw materials marbling some silk scarves. I even went so far as to marble over a few previously marbled pieces. They’re still drying though, so you’ll have to wait for pictures. . .