19 May

Dutch Treats

I spent the last few days making a trek across Germany into The Netherlands to take a fabric dyeing class with Dijanne Cevaal. I’m not really sure how I got there, as I thought I had to drive across The Netherlands, but when I followed the directions the computer gave me, only the last 45 minutes or so were not in Germany. By the way, when driving around Germany, I am always suprised by how many people seem to be compelled to stop on overpasses and watch the traffic. On one holiday weekend, TS&WGH made a game of counting the overpasses without “watchers.”
Autobahn Watcher
Once in Borger, I was not confident I had actually found the correct town until I took a walk and found the quilt shop where the class would be held the next day. I saw some ladies working in the classroom and was tempted to stop in and say hi, but thought better of it as it was after 9 pm. Here’s the shop/proprietress’ home, with the classroom/gallery to the left. This picture does not do the shop justice — the other side has a lovely yard and quilts hanging around. If you are ever in or near Borger, NL I recommend visiting De Stofmeid!

De Stofmeid, Borger, NL

The town itself is quite charming. Check out the neat thatch and shutters (?) on this barn.

Thatch
Here’s some more conventional houses in the area. It’s quite a bit different than the row houses crammed together in the cities of Amsterdam and Utrecht which I have visited previously. I love the mix of old and new and how the Dutch seem to effortlessly mix these old thatch and brick homes with modern glass doors and huge windows. Looking in those windows everything seems elegantly spare, but still warm.

Borger Neighborhood

And what a beautiful gate! My dad would love it.
Gate with stone weight

The town closed down early, so I was lucky to duck into an Italian/Greek restaurant for a salad and a glass of wine. Sorry, no pics as it seemed rather desperate to photograph my food when I was the only one in the restaurant besides a pair at the bar. Seems everyone was at home watching Arsenal play Barcelona. I’m not a big follower of Fußball, but it’s World Cup time and you just can’t avoid it. Arsenal is to the UK as Bayern München is to Germany, and I think Barcelona is the favorite of Spain as well, so the match was a big deal (Barcelona won, BTW). For World Cup, the whole town of Borger was decked out in Holland’s national color, orange. There were banners everywhere and window displays with T-shirts, balls, personal fans, ties, everything! (And yes, I’m a lousy German for not being more knowledgeable on the national sport, but I do root for Bayern München.)

The next morning I had breakfast at the hotel. Don’t you just love this Frieda-Green dining room.

Dining Room, Hampshire Inn, Borger, NL

Breakfast was the usual european fare of boiled eggs, bread with cold cuts, yogurt and müsli, coffee and juices. The Dutch add a little treat though. They like buttered white bread with Hagelslag (chocolate jimmies). The Hagelslag even come in a variety of flavors, to include fruit!

Breakfast

Naturally, I had to buy Hagelslag and Stroopwafeln (crispy waffle sandwiches with caramel in the middle) for my friends at home. I couldn’t pass up the sprinkles with gnomes and toadstools on the packaging for myself.

Hagelslag and Stroopwafeln

Bad, bad me, I had so much fun in class that I didn’t bother to take any pictures. The class was 11 Dutch ladies and me. They were very nice to accomodate me and my limited language skills. Annemeike, who owns the shop, is friendly and has a beautiful space for classes and shows. Dijanne is a lovely lady and was nice enough to translate for me when needed. Silly me assumed that since she was from Australia, the class would be in English (we all know what happens when you assume). Ends up that Dijanne was born in The Netherlands, as so is fluent in Dutch. Luckily, her hand-outs were in English, and Dutch has enough similarities to German that I could devine the big ideas just listening for familiar words. We dyed a lot of fabric and played with mixing colors and mooshing around the fabric to make interesting patterns. While we waited for one batch to “cure,” Dijanne inspired us with some of her fabrics. Annemeike prepared a delicious lunch of bread, salad, and to-die-for salmon tart. At another break we were treated to a “suitcase show” of Dijanne’s quilts. I was overwhelmed with the possibilities and lost site of actual projects I might be working on in the future. I combined colors on the fly, so I’m not sure I will be using much of this stuff soon. I WILL use it eventually though, you can be assured of that! The whole reason for attending though, was to be able to come home and dye fabrics myself in a more contemplative atmosphere. So, here’s what I brought home. I’m drying my fabrics outside rather than in the dryer because Tommy says it’s easier on the ironing, which I look forward to doing tonight.
Dyed Fabrics

The other side of the drying rack

After class, I walked down the street to see the local megaliths. Yup, you read right, prehistoric megaliths. The region, Drenthe, is dotted with these large stone formations, and the largest of them all happens to be in Borger, just down the road from De Stofmeid. If I interpreted the Dutch signage correctly, these constructions were grotto-type dwellings of the local hunter-gatherer tribes. According to the picture on the brochure, the space “inside” would have been dug out to achieve a proper ceiling height, and then the spaces in between the upright stones would have been filled in with stacked, smaller stones. Not easy to build, but obviously sturdy, and probably well insulated. Cozy, eh?
Hunebed formation

No one is sure exactly how these were built (perhaps by giants?), but it is theorized that the stones were moved along rolling “roads” of logs. Perhaps the side, upright, stones were placed first, then a ramp was built of smaller stones topped with logs, and the top stones were rolled up into place. Another possibility is that the top stones were hoisted up into place temporarily with logs, and then the uprights placed underneath. I think the literature said that both methods had been tried out and were equally plausible.

Hunebed interior

another view

I drove back home this morning, and actually spotted another megalith formation along the side of the road in the next town. Cool. The weather wasn’t as nice for the drive home, but at least the rain cleaned most of the bugs off the car. I didn’t have to rush either, as TS&WGH was able to take two days off of work to stay at home with the kids. When I signed up for the course, I worked it around the kids being able to stay with friends and neighbors after school, but Katja got sick last weekend and couldn’t go to Kindergarten. I offered to cancel my plans, but my man, World’s Greatest Husband that he is, said no. I needed this “professional development,” and he was willing to adjust his schedule for it. Yippee! Had I known my schedule wasn’t going to be so tight, I probably would have opted not to drive (5 hours each way and 2 tanks of gas, one at US prices, the other at the european price of $100 to fill my 18 gallon tank). I envy the people on the express trains that zipped by me along the way.

ICE train

I had to snap some pics of the fields of Raps as well. I think Raps is called Rape in english. It is used to make canola oil and it’s intense lemon yellow color brightens the days at both the begining and end of the growing season. The other day, I saw a red regional train just past a yellow raps field, under a blue sky. Too bad I didn’t have my camera that day.

Raps field

And finally: I’ve lived to the notheast of Frankfurt Airport, to the west of it, and now, to the south of it. I could practically drive to it blindfolded. So, I felt like I was almost home when I zipped past this friendly face. Even the airport is decked out for World Cup (finals will be held in Germany, I believe).

Frankfurt Airport

16 May

Yummm, Cookies!

I am close to having my next foresty quilt done and blog-worthy, but in the meantime, have a cookie!

I’m a sucker for a cute cookie cutter and have been collecting them for a while. I haven’t made any cookies in a longer while though, so I’d kinda forgotten what I have. Katja bought a kitty cookie cutter last week, so today we dug out the rest and made sugar cookies. I won’t get into the Christmas-themed cutters because that’s a whole other obsession (not mine), but I do have a nice collection of other “german” cutters. Not shown are the variety of hearts, stars, and crescents, or the dachshund. But here’s Schumi’s Ferrari (I do have a boy child!), and my newest obsession, the fliegenpilz. Next to the mushrooms are Ampelmänner, which I think are just too cute (pictures of the real thing here, I’m too lazy to dig mine out and scan them). I’m such a tourist that last time we were in Berlin, I bought a T-shirt with the GO guy on the front and the STOP guy on the back. Unfortunately, it shrunk, but I’m saving it for Katja (Zavi has one too).
Cookies

Speaking of Fliegenpilze, I’m thinking about a few other themed objects. I have little ones to wire to our Christmas tree, and next time I see one for the garden, I’ll probably get it, though I’m not sure I’m ready to go whole hog and get a gnome too (if you click here, please take the time to scroll down to see, not only the gnome driving Schumi’s car, but the garden gnome soccer team in Germany’s uniform!). I would like a strickpilz though (perhaps known to english speakers as a knitting nancy).

Knitting Mushroom

Knitting mushroom

(www.plowandhearth.com)

Strickpilz

(www.kinder-online-shop.ch)

13 May

Am I Insane?

My dad thinks I’m insane for getting into these projects with lots of tedious little pieces. He thought that the first hexagon quilt was rather masochistic. He’d giggle if he knew I’ve started another one. In the same vein is my current project, where I’m tying hundreds of little knots in fabric so I can bleach a reverse shibori tie-dye kinda thing. Why do I choose such tedious projects when I could be fusing, rotary cutting, or shopping for the perfect fabric? I’m asking myself these same things! I think it’s about the process. It’s not that I love tying knots for days, or keeping track of hundreds of funny looking hexagons (though that’s not too bad). It’s because I get a certain end result in my head, and I just HAVE to try the process to see if it works. Right now, I’m thinking about the cut ends of logs stacked in neat piles. I imagined (probably while showering, but now I’ve forgotten) that some sort of tie-dye would make cool logs, so here I am tying knots. Just to see how it looks. And I’m tying extra to cut up because I want to see how they look cut up and resewn as hexagons. I could just go buy fabric with circles or wood grain. Maybe I am insane.

Fabric with grid
I’m liking working with black fabric. I used a soap sliver to mark a grid. It shows up great and washes out even better.

Tied Fabric

Here is one piece all tied up. I kinda like how it looks. Maybe my work should just be all about the forms I can make from knotted fabric…

Discharged Fabric

And here’s the bleached and washed fabric. I decided not to use it after all, but I do like it, so I’m sure I’ll be able to work it into something sooner or later.

Finally,Here’s a shout-out to Robin’s mom lurking in New Jersey: Hi! Thanks for reading my blog! (That goes for the rest of you too :-))

10 May

A Post from my Sister

Kristin, I got the shade and I love it. Here are a couple of pictures of it in
place. It was hard to see it in the daylight since it just gets washed out in
the photo. Nevertheless, in real life, it makes the light in the room very
nice. So you can see the travel theme in the room: things to travel with and
pictures of places to travel.

Shade at night

Shade in the day

The shade is a great addition – thanks so much. I had no choice on where to
attach it since it is a metal door. It already has holes in it that I used for
eye hooks… not the best but it will do.

I would have tried to put this right on the blog, but I have no idea how or if
it is possible to put my own photos on.

Oh well,
Love,
Erin

06 May

Spam, spam, spam, spam

It’s official, the spam-bots have found me. I miss blogging when I haven’t posted in a week or so and I therefore have no new feedback from you, my fabulous readers. I moderate my comments so that you don’t have to read spam, but I still have to see it. I used to get excited when there was a new comment to moderate because it meant I had a new reader. Now, more often than not, it’s just spam. What a letdown! 🙁

On the positive side, I saw this link through Whip-up and decided to join the challenge! Really, after all those Sweet Shop pin cushions, how could I NOT! So I indulged my inner felter and chose fruit that was round (because felt balls are quick and easy) and the same color as the wool rovings I had. Voila, an orange and some lime wedges:

Fruit Pincushions

I love the effect of simple embroidery and/or beading on felted balls. I also added some silk to the inner part of the orange, and some short cut bits of embroidery threads to the center of the lime. It’s pretty subtle, but I’ll try again on another project and use more.

We bought some Coronas for Cinco de Mayo, and I really should have shoved a pincushion into one of the bottles, but I was just too lazy. It was really cute in my mind though 😉